Round 1 – No. 23
Sharrif Floyd, DT
Height: 6’3″ – Weight: 297 lbs.
Age: 20 – Class: Junior
For someone who did not grow up dreaming of being a professional football player, Florida Gators defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd could not have been smiling any wider when commissioner Roger Goodell announced his name as the No. 23 overall pick in the 2013 NFL Draft on Thursday evening.
Floyd, projected by many to be the best defensive tackle available and a top-five player in the draft, fell out of the top 10 and behind two other defensive tackles – Sheldon Richardson (Missouri) and Star Lotulelei (Utah).
Nevertheless, while sitting in the greenroom with family, friends, his agent and Florida head coach Will Muschamp, Floyd received a call from the Minnesota Vikings that would change his life. When he hung up the phone and was called on stage, he became the 44th first-round pick in Gators history and the first player selected by the Vikings since Percy Harvin (No. 21, 2009).
“The scenario with Sharrif, that one never really came up. … I don’t think any of us foresaw that he would come down to 23,” head coach Leslie Frazier said. “We all said it would be a no-brainer, and it turned out to be just that. There was no hesitation.”
“I couldn’t be part of a better ball club,” Floyd said. “This has been a goal of mine for a long time and now it’s here. I am excited to get out there and get started.”
A starter at Florida for two seasons, Floyd did whatever the coaching staff asked of him and made the most out of his opportunities. He started out of position at defensive end in 2011 but shined when he moved back to defensive tackle in 2012, recording 46 tackles including a team-high 13.0 for lost yardage. Floyd’s three sacks and six quarterback hurries were each second-most on the Gators, impressive statistics considering he was an interior lineman.
NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock opined shortly before Floyd was selected that character concerns may have led to his slide, which cost him approximately $10 million. Muschamp dismissed that notion at the conclusion of the first round.
“I was with the young man for two years. He was as good of a young man as we had on our football team and in our locker rooms,” he said. “There’s absolutely no character issues. I don’t know where that comes from. People grasp at straws when a guy slides a little bit. At the end of the day, he’s a first-round pick in the NFL Draft and that’s a heck of an accomplishment.”
Floyd, the first UF defensive tackle chosen since Marcus Thomas (2007), is the first Florida player to be selected in the first-round since 2011 and the ninth in the last seven years. He is the 11th overall player to be chosen by Minnesota in the NFL Draft and is the only former Gators player on the Vikings’ roster.
“You never know what happens in those situations,” said Muschamp in regard to Floyd’s slide. “I know that the further you go deeper in the draft, the better organizations you’re going to be with. Minnesota is a great organization.”
He continued: “Sharrif was fine. We had talked about the process when you go through this. You never know what’s going to happen. Sharrif is very happy to be a Minnesota Viking right now, I can assure you of that. The young man just got drafted in the first round of the NFL Draft. He’s got a lot to be thankful for and with the opportunity sitting in front of him, I’m sure he’ll use it a little bit as far as motivation. But at the end of the day, he got drafted in the first round of the NFL Draft and that’s a heck of an honor.”