It was no secret Cardinals heralded wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald wanted his team to draft Notre Dame wideout Michael Floyd.
Fitzgerald’s wish was granted when the Cardinals used their 13th pick in the first round to select Floyd, a player who possesses eerily comparable qualities and strengths to their Pro Bowl receiver. For Floyd’s former head coach at Notre Dame, the selection made perfect sense.
“I think there’s clearly been a connection between [Fitzgerald] and [Floyd],” Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly said. “I think Larry’s been kind of a mentor to Michael and obviously when guys have those similar character traits, they connect and it’s not a coincidence.”
Kelly believes Fitzgerald saw parts of himself in Floyd, a combination the Cardinals deemed too potent to pass up.
“Larry must have saw some similarities in terms of Mike’s work ethic and love for the game that Larry has so certainly it’s not a mistake that those two guys have connected,” Kelly explained.
Now that Floyd will be paired with Fitzgerald in Arizona, the dynamic second receiver the Cardinals have been yearning for is now firmly entrenched on their roster.
Kelly marvels at Floyd’s tenacity and passion for the game, but what excites him the most is the potential his former young wideout can realize under the guidance of the veteran Fitzgerald.
“He attacks the football,” Kelly said. “If the ball’s in the air, he’s going to get his hands on it and he’s just got a great ability to track it and aggressively go get the football. I think for [Floyd], the things that he’ll continue to work on are precision, the things that Larry Fitzgerald already has.”
Floyd could benefit from more seasoning and Kelly believes that’s the nature of an inexperienced receiver making the transition to the next level.
“I think you could consider [Floyd] still a raw receiver in a sense and he could get better in all the technical aspects and route running and things of that nature,” Kelly stated.
Still, there is no questioning Floyd’s talent and selflessness as a player. It was clear to Kelly that Floyd always put the team before his own personal records and achievements.
“Whether he’s getting the football or not, he’s a guy that’s never complained,” Kelly said. “He always wants the ball in big situations. But he’s never been a diva in terms of not getting his catches. If we’re successful and we’re making plays, he’s on the other end making blocks.”
Kelly couldn’t have asked for a more dedicated and team oriented player than Floyd.
“For me, it was such a pleasure to coach a kid that it didn’t matter what the situation was, if he wasn’t getting the ball, he was going 100 percent,” Kelly stated.
Floyd showed his allegiance to Notre Dame after his team’s loss to USC, which eliminated them from BCS contention. Floyd remained focused on playing hard to get his team the best possible bowl game, which didn’t go unnoticed by Kelly.
“That’s sometimes a defining moment because other players may think just of themselves at that time. I thought that spoke volumes about his character,” Kelly said.
The Cardinals haven’t just acquired an incredibly talent receiver with tremendous upside but also a player who’s shown great maturity and growth in the midst of trying times. Floyd was stripped of team captain duties after a drunk driving incident in April 2011. After serving a suspension from the team in the offseason, he returned a changed man.
“He made some great choices so now you’ve got a young man that’s been through some adversity, has handled it and has been humbled because of it and the best is in front of him now,” Kelly stated.