Vikings' first pick patient during draft fall

Sharrif Floyd didn't let the high expectations get him down when they didn't come through. He stayed patient and his coach believes he has "huge upside."

For the months and weeks leading up to the draft, there seemed little doubt that Florida defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd was going to be a blue-chip pick in the NFL. Almost every mock draft conducted by those who do that as part of their job had Floyd linked with the Oakland Raiders at the No. 3 pick.

However, as the draft continued, Floyd fell farther and farther down the draft board – to the dismay of the analysts at ESPN and NFL Network, both of whom were linking him to several picks as he continue to slide down the draft board.

When he fell all the way to the Vikings at No. 23, few believed it was possible, including those in the Vikings war room that made the pick. Another person who was surprised by Floyd's slide down the draft board was Will Muschamp, his head coach at Florida, who said the Vikings got a steal in getting the talented and versatile Floyd as late in the first round as they did.

"I don't think there's any question the Vikings got better today," Muschamp said. "He's an outstanding young man. First of all, he's going to be great in the locker room and he's an outstanding player. He's a guy that, in my opinion, has a huge upside as a player. He's only played inside for one full year. He's going to continue to improve and get better with time. He can anchor. He can hold the point. He's got great initial quickness. He can disengage. He can give you some pass rush. He's an every-down player inside in the NFL."

Floyd contained his frustration about not being selected earlier. With so many expecting him to come off the board in the first 30 minutes of the draft, to have him still on the board two hours and 20 minutes into the selection process, he would be justified in being a little angry.

Instead, Floyd remained positive, knowing his time was coming and the longer he stayed on the board, the likelihood of going to a team that is a playoff contender was looming.

"I was just sitting there waiting for my name to be called," Floyd said. "At some point I knew it was coming and I was waiting for the best fit to pick me."

Muschamp, a former defensive coordinator for the Miami Dolphins and no stranger to the strangeness that can accompany draft weekend, said it was more a matter of situation – teams needing a defensive tackle – that caused Floyd's fall, not a perceived lack of talent.

"It is what it is," Mushchamp said. "I've been in the NFL. It goes back to what certain teams need. At the end of the day, he's going to a great organization. I was in Miami with Rick Spielman and those guys do a first-class job."

If Floyd was frustrated by his long green room wait, he didn't let it show when talking to the local media. Although the draft gurus almost unanimously had him linked to Oakland, he wasn't taking anything for granted – which paid off for him in the end.

"I didn't really come into this thing thinking I was going to a specific place," Floyd said. "I came in waiting for the best fit for me. That's how I looked at it. I didn't look at it like I was going somewhere else. I was just waiting for the best ball club to pick and I'm happy Spielman felt it in himself to pick me."

What intrigues the Vikings so much about Floyd is his versatility and, as he explained, there isn't much he hasn't done for the Gators, playing both inside and outside and being effective in whatever has been asked of him.

"I played all positions at Florida, from nose (tackle) to the classic technique," Floyd said. "I'm willing to do whatever they need me to do to contribute to this team."

He is also excited about playing with Vikings Pro Bowl defensive tackle Kevin Williams, who he hopes to learn a lot from and, considering how similar their styles were coming into the NFL, likely being viewed as Williams' long-term replacement.

"He's a great player and a veteran," Floyd said. "He's been doing a great job. I'm just more excited to come in and learn from him and play under him."

While his wait to get his photo op with Commissioner Roger Goodell came about two hours after he thought it would, Floyd has no regrets and believes he and the Vikings are a perfect marriage of player and organization.

"I couldn't have been a part of a better ball club," Floyd said. "I'm excited about getting out there and get started."


John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.

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