The Florida Gators had one of the best defenses in all of college football this past year under Head Coach Will Muschamp. The biggest reason for Florida’s dominance on defense was the play of their defensive tackles, particularly that of Sharrif Floyd. His 13 tackles for loss, 3 sacks, and 2 blocked kicks do not accurately reflect his impact on the field. He has a ton of talent and production already and he should only continue improving. Floyd spent the off-season working on improving his strength and power and it paid off in a big way in 2012. There is no doubt he has a ton of talent; it is a matter of determining just how high he can go in the upcoming draft.
Floyd’s hard work in the off-season paid off and he is physically impressive for a prospect that is still only 20 years old. He has improved his strength considerably but still possesses a great deal of physical potential. The best example of just how physically impressive he can be was in their game against Texas A&M. In this game, the Florida defense had him lined up at right end in a four man front across from likely top five pick Luke Joeckel. Floyd gave Joeckel all he could handle and even beat him on a pass play though it did not result in a sack or anything. Nevertheless, it was an impressive showing by Floyd.
He profiles as the prototypical 3-technique defensive tackle who can fire off the ball and shoot gaps with his tremendous first step or get into the chest of the guard in front of him and drive him into the backfield, then find the football and make a play on the ball carrier. The center is looking to get into him with the block before he can isolate the guard because once he gets to that point, unless the play is going away from that guard, he can wreak havoc. Forcing opposing offensive lines to double team him is part of his impact as a player. If in the NFL, if he can be paired with a nose guard who can demand attention from multiple blockers, it will put a ton of pressure on the interior of opposing offensive line. And when he lines up as a 3-technique tackle, there are times when he will just go shoot the gap with a swim move to get into the backfield.
Floyd could certainly be a candidate to play the 5-technique end in a 3-4 scheme. He has the combination of athleticism and power that scheme demands. While Floyd’s preference is to penetrate into the backfield, he does have the ability to stack and shed. The key with him is all about his feet. As long as they are churning, he holds up great and gets push in one on one situations and holds up against double teams.
Floyd has a weird habit of getting inside and then continuing to grind against the lineman sideways to get into the backfield. While it seems to work from time to time, he is not taking any advantage of his hands and giving the offensive lineman a target to focus his efforts in his shoulder and side.
The biggest issue Floyd needs to work on from a technique standpoint is staying low when he fires out. For a guy not even 6’3”, he plays tall too often. When he gets tall, he gets a narrow base and is knocked off balance more easily. As a result, he can be turned or knocked off of his feet by offensive linemen; even those he should physically dominate. When he stays low, he keeps a wider base, he has more power, more balance, and is stout at the point of attack. He also needs to do a better job breaking down in the backfield as he occasionally runs past plays he should make. Lastly, he needs to be more consistent getting his arms up in the air in an attempt to knock down passes when he is not going to get to the quarterback. While he is incredibly physically impressive, he needs to continue strength to his upper body.
In an incredibly deep defensive line class, Sharrif Floyd stands out as one of the best and still has so much room to grow. He should be an impact player at the next level as a threat both against the run and the pass. His production should improve dramatically, especially with pressure and sacks. His tape is that of a first rounder and combined with his potential, it is a question of how high with Floyd can go. He has the possibility of being picked in the top 5 with a floor that appears to be no worse than 18th pick. Floyd is not quite the prospect that Gerald McCoy was coming out of Oklahoma, but he has close to the same level of athleticism and could develop into the same caliber player in the NFL