Sharrif Floyd was arguably the top defender on an elite Florida Gator defense this past year. He played Defensive Tackle most of the time for the Gators, but at times he did slide out to Defensive End to help the pass rush. While officially he only had three sacks for the Gators this past year, he really was responsible for a large amount of sacks across the defensive line due to constantly getting double and sometimes even triple teamed by opposing offensive linemen. Sharrif’s best abilities are as a natural pass rusher, as he has a quick and long first step and is able to swim over opponents and get directly to the quarterback. He plays with a powerful upper body and tosses linemen aside, and sheds them with ease. He has an explosive burst off of the line of scrimmage and bursts through gaps in the Offensive Linemen though Floyd didn’t have the most athletic build; he still had a nonstop motor, and was always giving great effort on each play. . Even as a 5-Tech end at Florida he was still able to produce at an elite level, even though it was not his natural position. Floyd’s presence on Florida’s defensive line will surely be missed this upcoming season and it will certainly be interesting to see how they preform without him taking up so many double teams. Floyd will likely go down as one of the best Defensive Tackles that has ever played at Florida, and his NFL career is just as promising.
The Vikings took no time to rush up to the stage and hand in their card to select Floyd at #23, he was rated the top defensive tackle on their board, and was one of the top pass rushers in this year’s class. They even at one point considered trading up for him. Minnesota loved his pass rushing ability, and the fact that he had a very similar style of play to current Viking Kevin Williams. They also liked that not only was he a very good pass rusher, but that he also was very effective against the run, and would dominate the middle of the defensive lines. The front office and the coaching staff were very pleased that Floyd fell right into their laps at 23.
For now in Minnesota, he will likely spend at least his rookie year as a situational pass rusher, since Kevin Williams is currently manning down the 3-Tech spot. He still has a chance to make an impact, as he will not have as much pressure on him as he did at Florida, he will feed off not having as many 2 man blocks while teams are trying to focus on the likes of Jared Allen, Kevin Williams, and Brian Robinson. He could likely end up with 5 or 6 sacks on the year. For the Vikings defense this means that there is a successor in place for Kevin Williams once he becomes a free agent in 2014.
The fact he fell all the way to #23 was a surprise to many, as some teams had him as the #1 or #2 player on their board. Some say he fell because of character, but Florida coach Will Muschamp shot that down. In a conference call on Friday, Muschamp said, “I was with the young man for two years,” he said. “There’s absolutely no character issues. I don’t know where that comes from. People grasp at straws when a guy falls in the NFL Draft.” With Floyd gone from the program there is no reason for Muschamp to say anything good about Floyd unless he actually means it. Floyd was an exemplary player for the Gators and was always heralded as a high character guy by the coaching staff, even when he was fined by the NCAA for reportedly receiving money from an unnamed individual for living expenses before he attended the University of Florida. The real reason for Floyd’s fall on draft day could be that most teams did not see him getting past the Raiders, so many teams were gun shy to pull the trigger on him.
He also has a little bit of development to work on for the NFL level, such as working on keeping a lower pad level. His high pad level is the biggest whole in his game as it leads to him often losing leverage and sometimes falling to the ground because his lower half is exposed. He also needs to work on his technique, as his technique can be pretty sloppy at times. He doesn’t have the elite speed to be able to chase down quarterbacks, so some quarterbacks can often avoid him by side stepping him and eluding the rush. He also has some limited flexibility, and has trouble bending around sometimes.
Dominique Easley will likely be Floyd’s replacement at the 3 Tech spot in Florida, following in Floyd’s footsteps from moving from defensive end to tackle. With Easley moving to tackle, that would require former 5 star recruits Dante Fowler Jr. and Jonathan Bullard to take over the defensive end spots. They both got some extended playing time this past season and performed well in spots; they will both just have to be more consistent in their pass rush, a problem which the whole Florida defensive line struggled with at times.
Floyd was a great Gator, and he will be greatly missed, but he will be an even better Viking, and I wish him all the luck in his NFL career, and believe that he will be extremely successful. So goodbye Sharrif Floyd and good luck.