Michael Floyd and the Fleeting Nature of Promise

Michael Floyd and the Fleeting Nature of Promise


Michael Floyd and the Fleeting Nature of Promise

Time sneaks up on you in the NFL. You can go from prospect to passé quickly. Michael Floyd–the former first round pick out of Notre Dame–feels like a player with promise waiting to find it. But man, does time fly.

I looked at Michael Floyd’s career page upon the news that he was arrested for a DUI Monday morning (and subsequently released by the Arizona Cardinals), and was kind of shocked to see that he had just turned 27 and had already been in the league five years. It seems like it was just yesterday that he was the heir apparent to Larry Fitzgerald.

In reality, it was four seasons ago that he had his 1,000 yard season, gaining more yards than Larry Fitzgerald (on fewer catches). In 2013 and 2014, he had more yards than Fitzgerald, and more touchdowns. Not so much over the last two years, where Floyd has fallen off and is now someone else’s reclamation project.

We had a bit of a discussion behind the scenes here about his upside, and whether he is a good risk going forward. I’ll note that over half of all pro bowl wide receivers were 27 or younger, which is roughly the peak age for the position. Yes, there have been plenty of older receivers who have had success, but pointing to guys like Randy Moss and Jerry Rice isn’t really applicable to Michael Floyd.

I tried to look at similar players to Michael Floyd, using the “approximate value” numbers at pro-football-reference.com. A simple explanation is that those numbers use the overall quality of the offense, and then the players’ percentage of contribution (things like yards and touchdowns for receivers) to assign a number each season. I took all other receivers since 1978 and looked at the “approximate value” for ages 23 to 27. I’m looking at not only the overall value, but the shape. Guys that were peaking at 26 and 27 will appear dissimilar to Floyd.

Here are the most similar players to Floyd during those ages:

Michael Floyd

That would be the other Mark Clayton (of the Baltimore Ravens) at the top of that list.

More players on that list would end up with fewer than 100 more receiving yards, total, for the rest of their career (7), than would get to just 2,000 more receiving yards (6) by age 32. Only three of the 24 got to 2,500 more yards: Irving Fryar, Terry Glenn, and Brian Blades. Of course, all of those players saw a decline at age 27 due to missing more games than Floyd.

Blades, after some good seasons on some bad Seattle teams, missed 10 games with a collarbone injury at age 27, and bounced back the next year. Terry Glenn, who had a great year before age 23, was inactivated by Bill Belichick in New England after four games in 2001, and traded the next offseason to Green Bay. Irving Fryar (the first overall pick in 1984) had no shortage of his own off-the-field issues (a domestic dispute that resulted in a knife wound, multiple gun incidents) and had multiple knee injuries at age 27 that caused him to miss five games and limited him in others. Glenn and Fryar were able to rebound at age 30 with different organizations (Glenn with Dallas and Romo, Fryar with Miami and Marino).

So those look like the best-case scenarios, but also the rare exceptions. Floyd hasn’t had any major injuries, and he hasn’t been hampered with playing with a bad quarterback or team. I don’t see him as a promising candidate to bank on. Someone will give Michael Floyd a chance to rebound as well, but most wide receivers like Floyd are no longer prospects. The odds aren’t great that he’ll make a name elsewhere.

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