Apr 27, 2012, 12:09 AM EDT
There won’t be a familiar Notre Dame slide down any draft boards this year. Former Irish wide receiver Michael Floyd was selected 13th overall by the Arizona Cardinals, the second wide receiver taken in the NFL Draft. After deciding to come back to school for his senior season, Floyd was rewarded by the Cardinals and teams with fellow Minnesotan Larry Fitzgerald to bolster an Arizona receiving corps in need of a complimentary weapon.
Floyd is the highest-drafted Notre Dame player since Bryant Young went with the seventh-pick in the 1994 draft. He’s the highest drafted Irish wide receiver since Heisman Trophy winner Tim Brown went sixth in 1988.
“I could not be happier for Michael and his family,” Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly said. “I’ve said many times I have never coached a person as talented as Michael, and his selection tonight shows that. Michael’s work ethic and passion for football are unparalleled and fans of the Cardinals will love the productivity he’ll bring to Arizona’s offense.”
Floyd closes the book on his Irish career as the most prolific in Notre Dame history. He holds five career receiving records, numbers that could have been even bigger if he didn’t miss multiple games during his freshman and sophomore campaigns. Shaking the injury bug during his junior and senior season, Floyd played in a system that saw the Irish target Floyd downfield far less often.
While the system change depressed his statistics, it also likely helped turn Floyd into an undeniable first-round talent. Forced to play a more well-rounded game during his final two seasons and without an elite quarterback that could get the ball effectively downfield to him, Floyd became one of the best blocking wide receivers in the college game, and became a tremendous possession receiver to complement the downfield ability he showed during his first two seasons.
Floyd surprised many with his 4.42 forty-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine. He also impressed multiple teams in interviews leading up to the draft, an important step after a DUI arrest last spring put his football career in jeopardy. But after sitting out a semester after an indefinite suspension from football by Kelly, Floyd was reinstated for his senior season and turned his life around while the spotlight was on him. The Cardinals repaid that hard work by investing their only pick in the first two rounds on the wide receiver, who was hoping to end up across from Fitzgerald, one of his boyhood heroes.
“When I got the call with the 602 number coming in, I wanted to jump for joy, but I played it cool,” Floyd said after during a conference call with reporters. “I talked to Larry and I know he wanted me there, but you never know. I’m just excited that I get the chance to be an Arizona Cardinal.”