University of Florida defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd, once billed as a top-three prospect, slid 20 spots on the opening night of the NFL Draft, a move that cost him roughly $13 million when the Minnesota Vikings selected him with the 23rd overall pick.
Most analysts had Floyd linked tied to the Oakland Raiders with the third overall pick. The team sent general manager Reggie McKenzie to Floyd’s pro day in Gainesville, and the Raiders were in need of a disruptive player at defensive tackle. Floyd certainly fit the bill.
Instead, the Raiders traded the third overall pick to the Dolphins, moving down into the 12th spot and drafting Houston cornerback D.J. Hayden.
Floyd, a 6-foot-3, 297-pound junior, who lined up at defensive end for the Gators before switching to his more natural position inside, was regarded by some scouts as the best three-technique player on tape. He was a dominant performer in nearly every event at the NFL Combine.
Missouri’s Sheldon Richardson was selected by the New York Jets at 13, making him a bit of a surprise as the first defensive tackle taken. The Jets had acquired that pick from the Bucs in exchange for Darrelle Revis.
Utah nose tackle Star Lotulelei went to the Carolina Panthers at 14. Lotulelei, who was once considered a top-five prospect as well, was held out of the combine because of a heart issue doctors discovered there. He has since been cleared to participate in football by a cardiologist.
The fact that Floyd fell so far is baffling considering what a dominant player he is. In the first round teams don’t typically address needs. They look for impact.
Whether it be a questionable work ethic, or lack of time at the position, (he spent his sophomore season at defensive end), it’s clear NFL front offices saw something to impact Floyd’s draft stock significantly.