Michael Floyd once belonged to the same club as Darrius Heyward-Bey, Troy Williamson, and Mike Williams (subscription); all Wide receivers taken in the first round of an NFL draft and that is where Floyd wants that connection to end.
Williams (tenth pick in 2005) was last seen with his walking papers from the CFL’s Toronto Argonauts. Williamson (seventh pick in 2005) scored less touchdowns (four) than seasons he lasted in the league (five). Heyward-Bey (seventh pick in 2009) has already dropped to the fourth receiving option on his second team. The phrase “high profile bust” seems appropriate.
Floyd plans to instead join the Larry Fitzgeralds, Calvin Johnsons, and Dez Bryants of the NFL: first round picks who broke out in their sophomore season and never looked back. This is not such an easy task at wide receiver; the position Brian Billick dubs one of the most difficult to make the transition from college to the pros.
Making an off-season appearance on the Arizona Cardinals’ radio show Big Red Rage, Floyd made it clear that his dream is to get to the Hall of Fame and that he will do anything to get there.
By most accounts the former Notre Dame product delivered an underwhelming statistical rookie season: 45 catches on 86 targets, 562 yards, and two touchdowns. Justin Blackmon, Kendall Wright, and Chris Givens all had more productive seasons.
However, just looking at his final numbers is oversimplifying the situation. Floyd’s first year was one of momentum: he began fourth on the Cardinals’ depth chart and played just 25 total snaps without a single target in his first two games. By the end of the year Floyd was on the field for over half the team’s offensive plays. With more playing time came more production as he averaged four receptions and 52.3 yards in the final nine games. This despite receiving his passes from a never-ending quarterback carousel featuring Brian Hoyer, Ryan Lindley, John Skelton, and Kevin Kolb.
While the average fan didn’t put much stake in Floyd’s first year–he was, on average, the 49th receiver taken in Yahoo fantasy drafts for 2013—the media did their homework. Bucky Brooks of NFL.com tabbed him to be the Most Improved Wide Receiver for 2013. Shaun Church wrote on Yahoo that he expected Floyd to be Arizona’s breakout player. Needless to say the pressure was on.
Floyd never flinched. He went through a well-profiled diet change under Fitzgerald’s guidance, but his confidence stayed the same. “When the ball’s in the air I always think that I have the ability to grab it. It’s either me or it’s incomplete,” he said during that radio appearance back in April.
Through the first 12 games of 2013 he has backed up that talk and then some, leading the Cardinals in receiving yards, average yards per catch, receptions over 20 yards, and first downs—and he’s Top 25 in the NFL in all of four categories. Carson Palmer looks for Floyd (85 targets) at roughly the same rate as the All-Pro Fitzgerald (99 targets).
Floyd is on something of a hot streak lately. He has led the Cardinals in receiving six out of the twelve times they’ve taken the field—including the last three games. His 396 yards in that span trail only Josh Gordon’s Maddenesque 623 yards. Despite his 6’3” 220-lbs frame Floyd has become a reliable deep threat: he accumulated all those yards on just 18 receptions. In fact, he’s on a streak of 20 straight catches for a first down or touchdown![viii] If that were a recorded stat Floyd would surely have the record if not be close to it.
Only 14 of the 61 wide receivers taken in the first round since 1998 passed the 1000-yard mark in either of their first two seasons in the NFL. If he continues this torrid pace, Floyd will easily become the fifteenth.
Michael Floyd looks to be more Reggie Wayne than Reggie Williams…or Reggie Brown.