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Tuesday, February 26, 2013
Sharrif Floyd sees draft stock skyrocket

By Michael DiRocco

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Sharrif Floyd hasn’t played a down of football since Florida’s loss to Louisville in the Allstate Sugar Bowl, but his NFL draft stock is soaring.

The 6-foot-3, 297-pound defensive tackle has gone from being a possible first-round pick in the days after the Sugar Bowl to a near lock to be a top-10 pick -- and potentially going in the top three.

Sharrif Floyd
After moving inside to DT, Sharrif Floyd had a breakout season in 2012.
“Trust me, this kid from the University of Florida, Sharrif Floyd, is the prototypical three-technique in this draft and I think he’s going to be a big-time impact player that people don’t know about,” NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock said. “I’ve got him rated higher than [Utah DT Star Lotulelei].”

Scouts Inc. has Floyd as the No. 4 overall player. Floyd, who reportedly ran a 4.87-second 40-yard dash, could be the first defensive tackle taken, especially if Lotulelei’s recently discovered heart condition proves to be serious.

A high pick would be warranted if Mayock’s comparison to an incoming Pro Football Hall of Famer is correct.

“What is most important about this kid is his explosion,” Mayock said. “He reminds me -- and I’m not going to say he’s ever going to be Warren Sapp, but it’s that type of first-step explosion. He can get an edge as a pass rusher. He’s strong enough to push the pocket. He’s stout against the run and he can run sideline to sideline.”

ESPN’s Mel Kiper, Jr., and Todd McShay also are high on Floyd, although they don’t project him as high as Mayock, who has him going No. 3 to Oakland. Kiper has Floyd No. 8 on his latest Big Board and predicts he’ll go to New Orleans with the 15th pick. McShay ranks Floyd seventh on his Top 32 -- up 17 spots from his previous rankings -- and predicts he’ll go to Carolina with the 14th pick.

McShay first scouted Floyd last summer and gave him as a second-round grade. He wasn’t impressed with Floyd’s strength and said Floyd just showed flashes of mobility and dominance. Part of that was because Floyd was playing outside as an end, which isn’t his natural position.

But after watching Floyd in 2012, McShay called him one of the most improved players that he studied. Floyd had 46 tackles, 3.0 sacks, and a team-high 13 tackles for loss in 2012. That’s twice as many sacks as he had as an end in 2011. He also forced a fumble and blocked two kicks.

“The improvement he made with his upper body [was impressive],” McShay said. “So it was the strength that he has, which is something he had to have done in the offseason. He’s just so much more powerful and stronger in his hands and upper body, and then the way he’s using his hands getting off of blocks. It used to be the point where he would kind of hang on and just anchor. Now he’s just standing the offensive lineman up, he’s strong enough to stand them up, find the ball, and then disengage quickly, and with different moves. Sometimes he’s ripping, sometimes he’s clubbing , sometimes he’s just strong enough to throw them off of him.

“It’s made such a difference in his game because now, with the quick disengagement skills, he’s able to go make plays and that’s what he does.”

Wes Chandler (1978) and Gerard Warren (2001) are the highest-drafted Gators since the AFL-NFL merger in 1970. Both went third overall.