- Kevin Seifert, NFL Nation
- 0 Shares
EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- In their final mock drafts of 2013, ESPN analysts Mel Kiper Jr. and Todd McShay each projected Florida defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd to go No. 3 overall to the Oakland Raiders. Kiper and McShay were not alone. Floyd was roundly expected to be a top-5 pick and almost certainly the first defensive tackle selected.
Instead, as we all know, Floyd was still available at No. 23, when the Minnesota Vikings scooped him up with a mixture of glee and disbelief. General manager Rick Spielman said he ran through 1,000 first-round scenarios before the draft, and Floyd was gone by No. 23 in all of them.
So what happened? Why did the league draft two other defensive tackles ahead of him? Let's consider a few explanations.
Spielman suggested the early run on offensive linemen and edge pass-rushers pushed down interior players like Floyd. Indeed, 12 of the first 22 picks fell into one of those categories. That thought, of course, doesn't explain why the New York Jets chose defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson at No. 13 and the Carolina Panthers grabbed Star Lotulelei at No. 14.
We could note that the Raiders, Floyd's presumptive destination at No. 3, traded out of the pick and landed at No. 12. But even there, the Raiders passed on Floyd to select cornerback D.J. Hayden.
If there were a previously-unknown character flaw or failed drug test, it hasn't been reported. Spielman, in fact, said Vikings representatives met before the draft with Floyd "numerous times" and that he "fell very clean."
Here are two more likely explanations, one of which has incredibly been part of our post-draft discussion for several years now. First, for an interior disruptor, Floyd wasn't productive from a statistical standpoint last season at Florida. Second -- and yes, I'm going there again -- Floyd's arms measured below average at the NFL scouting combine in March.
We'll start with his production first. Floyd had only one regular-season sack last season before notching two more in the All State Sugar Bowl. As we've noted in the case of Green Bay Packers linebacker Clay Matthews, relying on college production is a tricky business.
Here is some additional context: According to ESPN Stats & Information, two of those three sacks came against double-teams when the Gators were rushing only four men. That suggests Floyd drew plenty of attention from opposing offenses. As a result, nine other players on Florida's defense had at least two sacks, tied for the third-most in the FBS.
Meanwhile, Floyd's arms measured 31 3/4-inches in February. Hard-core NFL personnel men consider that short, and it's a presumed deficiency when facing longer-armed offensive linemen because of the leverage issues it creates.
I suppose if you're drafting a player in the top 5, you want him to be as close as perfect as possible from a physical and résumé standpoint. Floyd, in retrospect, was not. But I don't think anyone in Minnesota is worried. A disruptor can do his work in many ways while falling short in sack totals (and arm length).