Surveying the prospects: Sharrif Floyd

Rob Foldy-US PRESSWIRE

A late rise up draft boards has put the Florida Gator DT/DE into consideration for a top three pick. Should he fall to Carolina, would Sharrif Floyd solve the Panthers woes at defensive tackle?

Entering Florida as a member of the high school class of 2010, there was a lot of hype surrounding Sharrif Floyd, who per Rivals, was the #4 overall prospect in the entire nation. Through his first two years in Gainesville, Floyd played fairly well, garnering 6.5 TFL's in both his true freshman and sophomore seasons --but not necessarily the caliber of play expected from the Philadelphia native, 5-star recruit. Floyd had a banner year in 2012, being named an All-American, and a member of the first team All-SEC; Floyd would finish the year with 13 TFL's and 3 sacks.

During his time at Florida, Floyd played in a multitude of fronts for the Gators under Will Muschamp, seeing time as a 3-4 DE, a 4-3 DE, 3-4 NT, and 4-3 DT. His scheme versatility is part of what makes him so attractive to teams. He could potentially go #1 overall to Kansas City, and fit in as a 5-technique 3-4 DE, or he could go #3 overall to Oakland, and start at 3-technique in the Raiders 4-3. For a team like the Panthers, who like to switch between the 4-3 and the 3-4, a player like Floyd would be a valuable commodity.

Despite his high place in many analysts draft board's, Floyd is not a polished prospect. He has his flaws, and unlike a Star Lotulelei, he may not be able to compete at a high level immediately.

Before we delve into Floyd's positive traits, let's wade into the flaws of his game.

Floyd's biggest problem is his pad level. Although it is not entirely egregious, it does get him into trouble. Typically, Floyd comes off of the snap too high, and while many times he was able to use his great power, and hand position to recover, or at least stall any negative movement, in the NFL this is probably not going to be the case.

Here is an example of improper pad level; this play occurs in the Georgia Florida game.

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Floyd (located under the red triangle) is the nose tackle on this run play. Floyd gets off of the snap quickly, but his pads are much higher than the Georgia RG's.

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The UGA RG wins the leverage battle, as his shoulder pads are demonstratively lower than Floyd's. The lineman now has relative control over the Gator DT.

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Things go from bad to worse for Floyd as the RG drives him to his knees.

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The Bulldog RG literally drives Floyd to the ground; this is probably one of the most humiliating things to occur for a defensive lineman.

I'd be cherry-picking my analysis if this were the only time Floyd were placed on his back, but it's not. There were multiple times this season in which Floyd was driven to the ground.

Here is another play in which Floyd is washed out of the play due to his poor pad level.

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Here against Florida State Floyd is lined up in the B-gap as a 3-technique.

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Again, Floyd has a fine first step, but his pad level is too high.

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The FSU LG achieves better pad level and stonewalls Floyd at the LOS.

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Floyd does a nice job of keeping his feet and hands moving, but his improper pad level allows the the FSU LG to keep him at the LOS.

On this 3rd down and 1 against Vanderbilt, pad level and leverage are critical.

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In this play Floyd is operating as the Florida 3-technique.

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Note again, Floyd's pad level is too high; the Vandy RG wins the critical leverage battle.

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Floyd is 'stood up', and unable to stop Vanderbilt from gaining the first down.

Floyd's pad level is not great, though this is not necessarily a crippling flaw. At least in my opinion, Floyd is a 'knee bender'; not a 'waist bender'.

The ultimate goal of a lineman, defensive or offensive, is to achieve leverage against their opponent. This is done primarily (though not exclusively) through having your shoulder pads lower than your opponent's. Ideally, you would like to bend your knees (hence the name knee benders) to achieve lower pad level, which also translates into more power. Some players erroneously bend their waists (waist benders) to gain better pad level. Being a natural 'waist bender' is a big no-no as it can lead to numerous other maladies, and is fairly hard to overcome. A natural knee bender can be trained to come off of the snap with a lower pad level, while it's a much more difficult process for a natural waist bender. I see Floyd as a knee bender. In all likelihood, Floyd will be able to fix this issue.

When Floyd does achieve good pad level, and good hand placement, he is able to shed blockers with ease, as in this example below.

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Here against Missouri, Floyd is again operating as a 3-technique.

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Floyd has a fine first step, and engages the blocker with good pad level; his pads are at least equal to or lower than his opponent's. Floyd also does a good job of striking first with his hands, and gaining optimal placement, inside his opponent's shoulder pads.

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Thanks to his pad level, and hand placement, Floyd drives the Missouri RG backwards, into the backfield.

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As he notes the Missouri RB running his way, Floyd disengages his hands and sheds the blocker.

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After shedding the block, Floyd makes the tackle for a loss.

Floyd's favorite pass rushing (though he uses it frequently in run defense) move is probably the swim move.

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Again versus Missouri, Floyd is aligned as the 3-technique.

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Quickly off of the snap, Floyd achieves great pad level as well as great hand placement.

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Floyd swings his right arm over the LG's back and uses it to push the Tiger guard aside, just as the Missouri RB receives the handoff.

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With a nice burst, Floyd reaches the RB right after he receives the handoff, and seemingly tackles him for a safety.

Here is another example of Floyd's swim move, this time against Florida State in a pass rushing situation.

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Once again, Floyd is lined up as the 3-technique.

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Floyd comes out of his stance with poor pad level, but immediately begins his swim move, swinging his arm overtop the Seminole RG.

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With his great natural strength, Floyd is able to successfully pull off the swim move, and beat the RG; Floyd now has a free pass to EJ Manuel.

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Floyd accelerates to the QB, but is unable to get the sack, as Manuel evades his rush. Floyd does succeed in forcing Manuel out of the pocket, and getting off a quick throw.

Floyd also makes use of a rip move; albeit infrequently.

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Here Floyd is lined up as the 3-4 DE in the Gators one-gap 3-4 alignment.

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Off of the snap Floyd delivers a solid punch to the Vanderbilt LG in preparation for his rip move.

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Inserting his arm between the LG's arm and torso, Floyd uses his arm as a fulcrum to lift his opponent's arm.

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Floyd disengages the blocker, and hits the Commodore QB just after he releases the ball.

A testament to his athleticism, Floyd also has a decent speed rush.

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On this play Floyd will executing a stunt with the DE/OLB. As illustrated by the arrows, Floyd will be rushing to the outside, while the DE/OLB will move inwards.

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As Floyd engages the FSU LT he does a great job of striking first with his hands, and achieving great hand position, jolting the LT.

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As he rushes the edge, Floyd does a superb job of shrinking his shoulder, which gives the LT a smaller surface area to attack. Floyd has beaten the LT. This sort of athleticism is fairly uncommon in defensive tackles.

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Floyd accelerates and reaches Manuel, sacking the FSU QB.

Floyd has a solid first step, but unlike Sylvester Williams, or Star Lotulelei, he is not really a penetrating DT. However, when presented the opportunity, Floyd has a good enough first step to penetrate into the backfield, as is the case on this play versus Georgia.

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Here Floyd is aligned in the B-gap. On this play Georgia is going to try and slant their blocking scheme, in order to provide an additional double team towards the play-side. As is the case, it will be the UGA RT's job to shift over and block Floyd.

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Floyd explodes off of the snap, and with the RG shifting towards the nose tackle, has no blocker immediately in front of him.

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Floyd does an excellent job of tracking the handoff and taking a good angle to the ball carrier.

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Taking a good angle to Todd Gurley, the UGA RB, Floyd is able to make the TFL.

In addition to his excellent athleticism, good football IQ, and superb hand-skills, Floyd also possesses a great motor; rarely if ever will you see him give up on plays.

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In this play versus Florida State, Floyd is playing the 0-technique of the Gators 3-4.

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Floyd has a quick first step, and is about to engage the center with a swim move.

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Losing the leverage battle with the center, Floyd extends one arm to keep the FSU C at length, while swinging his right arm overtop of the Seminole blocker.

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After beating the first blocker, Floyd is engaged with the RG, who moves over to obstruct Floyd. Building on the momentum of his last move, Floyd opts to dispatch the RG with another swim move.

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Floyd beats the RG, and progresses to the QB, helping to collapse the pocket with the RG holding him in a bear hug. On this play the Gator DT exhibits great hustle and natural power.

Conclusion:

Sharrif Floyd is one of the top players available in this year's draft. He possesses a rare blend of athleticism and power, that with some tutelage and training, could blossom into an All-Pro Caliber player. Of course he is not bereft of flaws; if Floyd doesn't devote the time or the energy to fixing his pad level, he won't reach his potential. Though it doesn't look like effort will be a problem for Floyd at all, who by all accounts, is a really good guy.

He's a leader. He's an outstanding young man. When he walks out on that field and says something, he commands a lot of respect.

-Will Muschamp

Floyd's pass rushing moves are largely unrefined, but with tutelage from his DL Coach, and veteran players, Floyd should easily be able to polish his game. It may not all come together right away for Floyd, but he certainly has the skill set, and mentality of an early round pick.

It looks doubtful that he should fall, but Floyd would be a great pickup for the Panthers. His scheme versatility would be sublime, and while the Panthers recently re-signed Dwan Edwards, Floyd would be a terrific rotational piece in 2013. With Floyd the Panthers would finally find a longterm answer at 3-technique.

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