Friday, April 27, 2012
Floyd happy to be with Fitzgerald, Cards
By Matt Fortuna
Michael Floyd looked up to Larry Fitzgerald as far back as high school. The two shared a trainer and would often text each other, as the former Notre Dame standout sought advice from the all-pro receiver who happened to hail from his home state of Minnesota.
So when the 602 area code popped up on Floyd's cellphone shortly after 9 p.m. Thursday, the Irish's all-time leading receiver had to resist jumping for joy at the thought of playing in Arizona alongside one of his mentors.
Michael Floyd became the highest drafted Notre Dame player in 18 years.
Floyd and Fitzgerald will look to form one of the NFL's top pass-catching tandems in Arizona, which drafted Floyd 13th overall and made him the highest Notre Dame selection in 18 years.
"It's exciting just knowing that he's on the opposite side of me, one of the best receivers in the game," Floyd said. "It's a good learning experience for me to know that when I get down there I'll be able to learn from one of the best."
The Cardinals liked Floyd's 6-foot-2, 220-pound frame, as he figures to give the team the true No. 2 option it has lacked since Anquan Boldin, who in 2008 helped the franchise reach its first Super Bowl. Having Fitzgerald in touch with a fellow receiver in the leadup to this year's draft only made things easier for coach Ken Whisenhunt.
"I think it says a lot about Larry, that one of your best players is engaged, that he cares about what the team is doing, and that a receiver who wants the ball thrown to him every down is willing to bring in another guy that is obviously going to spread the receptions out," Whisenhunt said. "That says a lot. Larry is not as involved in the process as a lot of people like to think that he is, but certainly I think that Larry likes him, that Larry is going to take him under his wing, that is going to be important to Larry that this young man does well. I think that says a lot."
General manager Rod Graves said Floyd was simply too good to pass up at the No. 13 spot, and Whisenhunt was pleased with the way the record-breaking wideout handled the often-intense pre-draft vetting process about his string of alcohol-related run-ins with the law.
Pointing to Floyd's maturation, Irish coach Brian Kelly cited Floyd rallying the team in the wake of its midseason loss to USC, as the once-beleaguered star didn't let personal gains trump team ones despite BCS-bowl dreams all but gone.
"The things that Larry Fitzgerald already has, those are the things that Mike is going to aspire (to) and that is the technical aspect of the game," Kelly said. "I think you could consider Mike still a raw receiver in a sense that he can get better in the technical elements of route running and things of that nature. But he is certainly a guy that attacks the football and attacks defenders. And blocking, he is an outstanding blocker."