Michael Floyd, WR, Notre Dame.
In my last post, I proposed that the Carolina Panthers would take Nebraska DT Jared Crick in the 2012 draft. Some liked it, some hated it. So, I have another proposal. It is based off of my first mock of the year, For Those About to MOCK, We Salute You (which you can find on Mocking the Draft), in which I personally ordered the teams based upon statistics and personal judgment. In it, I have the Panthers picking 9th overall. With the 9th pick of the 2012 NFL Draft, the Carolina Panthers select....
Let me explain a little bit.
First, a little bit on the draft order, to make more sense of the pick. I have the Panthers picking ninth overall. KC wins the Suck for Neckbeard campaign and they win Napoleon Dynamite. After the Chefs, the Jags follow, with the Rams, Colts, Vikings, Dolphins, Seahawks, and Broncos following thereafter. Those are teams that I predict will finish worse than the Cats. Now, I haven't ascribed a win/loss record to the Panthers, but my guess is that they are 5-11, possibly 6-10, sitting in the ninth seat.
Now on to the selection.
It's becoming pretty obvious that the Panthers need a playmaker opposite Steve Smith, and eventually to take over as the number one receiver. LaFell is a nice complementary receiver, and we still have yet to see Gettis, Edwards, and Pilares perform. While those players are nice peices in a wide receiver corps, none have firmly taken over the position yet, and the Panthers can't wait forever. The coaching staff would like to give Cam Newton someone to grow and mature with for the next decade. And they'd like to take some of the pressure off of Smith.
Now, by the time the Panthers arrive at the ninth pick, Alshon Jeffery has been selected (number 2 by the Jags) and Justin Blackmon also was selected (by Minnesota at number 5). So, they aren't options. And neither is Matt Kalil or Jonathan Martin. However, there is another Wide Receiver besides Jeffery and Blackmon, who is worthy of a top 10 selection, and that's Notre Dame's Michael Floyd.
After hearing that last sentence, I'm sure a few of you are rolling your eyes, and thinking that he would be a reach there. But, I happen to disagree. In my opinion, Michael Floyd is a top 10 prospect, regardless of this mock. Now, while Jeffery and Blackmon are both running away with the praise and hype of this draft's WR crop, Michael Floyd has silently been racking up the stats. And he has got both Blackmon and Jeffery beat by a mile so far. As of now, Floyd has 47 receptions for 561 yards and 3 TDs with an 11.9 average YPC through five games. Now Blackmon isn't too far behind, with 38 receptions for 450 yards and 4 TDs with an 11.8 average. And Jeffery is running along with a meager 19 catches for 332 yards and 2 TDs with a 17.5 average. At the rate Blackmon is producing, it would take another game for him to be even with Floyd, and for Jeffery, it would take another 2 games to even out the production. Oh, and let me remind you that Floyd has been doing this with a subpar cast and mediocre if that QB, while Blackmon has one of the best QBs in the Big 12 throwing him the ball through a spread system and Jeffery has the dominant Lattimore to take some pressure off of him. So, as you can see, Floyd has been accumulating the stats but not receiving the same hype as either Jeffery or Blackmon.
Beyond his statistics, Floyd is a legitimate top NFL prospect. At 6-3, 220, Floyd has the size that is ideal for a WR prospect. But it's not just his size. He is a physical WR with great body control, and rarely if ever do cornerbacks interfere with him getting the ball when it's in the air. Now, he isn't the fastest guy, but he is quite a deep threat. And he has no trouble getting off the line and getting separation, which many receivers struggle with. His hands are like glue and he catches everything near his vicinity. And in the red zone, he is a truly a threat because he can catch everything. Also comes from a both a pro style system and Brian Kelly's spread and has run just about every route in the tree, and executes them well. Is also a dominant blocker, and pushes the CB around rather than the opposite. Potentially the best attribute about Floyd though is that he makes the QB a better QB.
The Panthers pick him because he can be for them what Vincent Jackson was for San Diego's offense. Floyd, like Jackson, would be a good deep threat and match for the Air Coryell style offense. With his size and skills, he'd fit in perfectly as the flanker, across from Steve Smith, and would take a lot of pressure (and extra players) off of him. And he'd make Cam even better than he is. Down the road, when Steve Smith leaves football (which I dislike even contemplating the thought) Floyd has the abilities of a number one receiver and could take over the reins.
Now, I'm not going to hide his potential character concerns. He has had a DUI and was nearly kicked off of the team. However, Brian Kelly is known as a disciplinarian and tough coach, and if he's allowed Floyd back on the team, his immaturity might be behind him.
Michael Floyd is a top prospect in this upcoming draft, and although there seems to be already a Jeffery and Blackmon camp at CSR with Floyd being forgotten and overlooked, he deserves a spot in this discussion of top WRs the Panthers could have their eye on. You never know, he could be the selection come next April.
WR Michael Floyd NFL Draft Analysis - 2010 Season (via TMBDraft)