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Updated: April 26th, 2013 5:33pm
Zulgad: Sharrif Floyd admits 'I've got a lot to prove' after slide

Zulgad: Sharrif Floyd admits 'I've got a lot to prove' after slide

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by Judd Zulgad
1500ESPN.com

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. - Sharrif Floyd wanted to make one thing clear Friday afternoon as he addressed the Twin Cities media at Winter Park.

He isn't mad.

Yes, many mock drafts had him going third overall in the first round of the NFL draft and, yes, tumbling to the Vikings at No. 23 will cost him millions of dollars on his rookie contract.

But the player considered to be the top defensive linemen available by many said he didn't get upset as name after name came off the board on Thursday night and he sat in the green room waiting patiently.

"It wasn't making me mad, frustrated or anything," Floyd said at his introductory press conference. "If anything, it got a little hot back there. But other than that I was calm."

Judging from the way Floyd handled questions on Friday, the fact he did not get upset about his fall was not a surprise. He seems to have the same type of even-keel personality as the guy he will be expected to eventually replace at the three-technique spot, Kevin Williams.

But that doesn't mean Floyd won't use his draft night fall as motivation in coming seasons. Floyd heard enough lip service from teams leading up to Thursday that he will be able to use that as fuel.

"I did feel as though a lot of ball clubs that told me certain things going through the process, 'Oh, you're this type of player, you're this type of player,' (then passed on me)," Floyd said. "(They said), 'You won't be there when we pick.' Me being there and getting passed up and things like that, I feel as though I've got a lot to prove. ... But I can't be mad at anybody."

The Vikings aren't concerned about whether Floyd is mad. What they are focused on is the fact they feel they have found their long-term replacement for Williams.

The Vikings' first-round pick in 2003 and a borderline Hall of Fame player, Williams will turn 33 in August and is entering the final season of a deal that will pay him $4.9 million in guarantees.

He had two years remaining on his original deal and was due a non-guaranteed $7.5 million in both 2013 and 2014, but the Vikings restructured his contract this offseason. Therefore, this likely will be his last season in Minnesota.

That means the 6-foot-3, 295-pound Floyd will get the experience of being able to play behind and pick Williams' brain for a season before moving into the three-technique spot on a full-time basis.

"I'm really excited to learn from him, get everything I can from him and contribute," Floyd said.

Having Williams serve as Floyd's mentor seems like the perfect scenario considering the veteran admitted last training camp that he wouldn't object to seeing his reps limited a bit in order to keep him fresh.

Williams and Floyd seem to share the same type of personality in that both can be ferocious on the field but seem to be nearly unflappable off of it.

Floyd proved to be a versatile player in college, having spent time at end in 2011, and it won't be surprising if in passing situations next season he lines up at nose tackle.

"I think it's going to be a great combination for us," Frazier said. "Kevin is still a guy who is viable for us. We're excited that he's back for another season and he'll get a chance to tutor a guy who we think is going to be a very, very good football player for a long time. So, it should be a good combination for our team."

Spielman admitted Thursday after the Floyd pick that he "went through 1,000 scenarios with that 23rd and 25th pick and I can just tell you honestly that he was not (available) in one of those scenarios."

Floyd, who started for Florida as a true freshman in 2010 and played three seasons for the Gators, appeared in 37 career games, finishing with 115 tackles, 26 tackles for loss, 4.5 sacks, three blocked field goals and a forced fumble.

"I don't think anyone expected him to be down there (at 23)," Spielman said. "What he brings to us from a defensive standpoint, as far as not only his ability to play the run, but his ability to get up field and rush the passer and just the natural athletic skills this player has and what you've seen on tape. ...

"When we meet with our coaches and we meet with our scouts and we go through the film and we read our reports, this is everything that we're looking for to identify a defensive tackle that fits well with our scheme."

This leaves only one very important question.

If Floyd is this good, why was he still there for the Vikings at No. 23?

Certainly, there had to be some type of issue.

Spielman tried to explain Thursday night that the run on offensive linemen in the first round - eight went among the top 20 picks and five of the top 10 picks were from that position group - was the reason that Floyd was forced to wait.

But could it really have been that simple?

When wide receiver Randy Moss fell to the Vikings at No 21 in 1998 and receiver Percy Harvin tumbled to Minnesota at No. 22 in 2009, it was because there were major character concerns about them. Both proved to be well worth the gamble the Vikings took.

But Spielman has repeated several times that Floyd did nothing wrong and there are no concerns about his character. His free fall was nothing more than a pleasant surprise to the Vikings.

"We've talked to all the kids," Spielman said. "I talked to them at the top 30 when we have our big banquet. I said, 'It doesn't matter if you're a first-rounder, where you go in the first round, or if you're a seventh-rounder. Right now, you're coming in and you're just trying to help us win ballgames. You're going to establish a role.'

"Who's to say, 'He's a first-round pick so he gets to go to the front of the line?' You're going to be in the back of the line just like everybody else. It's what they do once they get here, regardless of where you came or how you came. It's how you're going to perform once you get here. That's what is going to count and that's what is going to matter to people the most."

As for Floyd, he wanted to make it clear he arrives with his new team with no baggage and with not an ounce of disappointment.

"I don't think I've got any deep dark secrets, honestly," he said. "It was something that was just out of my hands. What happened, happened. Mock drafts are wrong each year about some positions and the Minnesota Vikings saw me as their top pick so I was No. 1 in somebody's book." 

Judd Zulgad is a columnist for 1500ESPN.com. He co-hosts "Mackey & Judd" from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. weekdays and "Saturday Morning SportsTalk" from 10 a.m. to noon on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.
Email Judd | @1500ESPNJudd | Mackey & Judd
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