Now that free agency frenzy is pretty much over, the focus of the NFL has switched from veteran players to those about to enter the league in May.
The Vikings received lots of praise after a busy first day of the NFL draft last year, but how did all of their moves turn out for them? In the coming days, I’ll take a look at how every rookie performed last year and what to expect from them in 2014, starting with the Vikings first selection at No. 23 overall: defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd.
Many draft analysts were baffled when Floyd, a highly rated player out of Florida, tumbled on draft night after being thought of as a surefire top-10 selection. The only reason that seemed to pop up was that Floyd’s arms came in short when being measured.
After the draft, Vikings general manager Rick Speilman even admitted the team had poured over 1,000 draft scenarios and none had Floyd available when the Vikings picked.
When the Vikings finally did step up to the podium to select Floyd, the selection was met with plenty of praise. NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock stated the Vikings could “put him down for six or eight” sacks his rookie year while learning behind Kevin Williams.
The Vikings made it clear from day one that Floyd would not be an immediate starter, and the goal was to have him fit in a rotation behind Kevin Williams. Floyd dominated the early portions of training camp against the second and third teams however, and looked primed to prove analysts correct.
A knee injury in the first preseason game against Houston seemed to set Floyd back quite a bit though. Williams would injure his knee in the third preseason game against San Francisco as well, which meant Floyd saw plenty of snaps early in the season, perhaps more than he was ready for.
Overall, Floyd finished his rookie season with 19 tackles, 2.5 sacks and a forced fumble. Floyd had some disruptive flashes as a pass rusher, but seemed to get moved out of the run game too frequently.
Compared to what Floyd was projected to be, it’s completely fair to say his rookie season was a bit of a disappointment. His early injury is worth noting however, and a rookie season does not a career make.
Expectations for 2014
Going into 2014, all indications are the Vikings will start Floyd at the undertackle position in place of Kevin Williams. While Floyd did not show he was worth of being a quality starter at the position in his rookie year, it is likely Mike Zimmer is excited to get his hands on Floyd and mold him into his starter.
Floyd’s shorter arms may have actually been a small obstacle in his adjustment to the NFL, though Mike Zimmer is noted for working with another undersized defensive tackle prospect: Geno Atkins.
Heading into 2014, expect Floyd to have the starting position locked down, and he should transform into a quality starter at the position. Do not be surprised when color analysts are calling his name a lot more often in the fall.
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