Editor's Note: In our annual 32-picks-in-32-days NFL mock draft, CSNPhilly's Ron Burke, Jared Sherman, Rob Kuestner and Geoff Mosher (in that order) will rotate making one pick per day. See Burke's first-overall pick for the Kansas City Chiefs here.)
2. Sharrif Floyd - DT - Florida (6-3/300)
Gus Bradley, the man many Philadelphians thought was going to be the next head coach of the Eagles, enters his first draft in Jacksonville with a plethora of holes to fill. Do they draft Geno Smith as a replacement for QB Blaine "Blame" Gabbert, their 2011 first-round pick? Do they shore up an offensive line that currently boasts 2011 UFA Cameron Bradfield as their starting RT with Eric Fisher? Or do they draft a DE like Dion Jordan or Bjoern Werner to help a pass rush that ranked dead last in sacks (20) in 2012? Or maybe go for Dee Milliner to start rebuilding a secondary again that lost starting CBs Derek Cox and Rashean Mathis to free agency, and released Aaron Ross.
It would be hard to argue any of these routes with the second-overall pick, but with a team so lacking in premium talent, Bradley and new GM David Caldwell need to select the best player on the board. And with only Luke Joeckel gone, that player is Florida DT Sharrif Floyd.
The Jaguars just signed DT Roy Miller after losing Temple alum Terrance Knighton to the Denver Broncos in free agency. Miller is an outstanding player against the run but offers little in terms of pass rush. Surprise 2010 first-round pick DT Tyson Aluala hasn't proven skeptics wrong that he was over-drafted either, with only 9.5 sacks in his first three seasons. Floyd would start immediately and give Bradley a penetrating presence in the middle of a defense sorely lacking pressure on the QB.
The Philadelphia-born Floyd, a George Washington High School grad, came to Florida as a five-star recruit, the top prep DT in the nation. He made an immediate impact with the Gators, earning 2010 All-SEC Freshmen honors. In 2011, Floyd was asked to kick outside in Will Muschamp's hybrid 3-4 to allow Florida to get its best players on the field. While this wasn't a glamorous move, Floyd did it without complaint and proved to be more than capable on the outside - playing both right and left end. In 2012, he moved back inside and came into his own as a penetrating DT, recording three sacks and 13 tackles for loss while earning All-SEC First Team honors.
Floyd's strength is his explosion off the snap and his ability to get through small windows between blockers (getting skinny). As an end, Floyd didn't threaten to turn the corner too often, but the 6-foot-3, 300-pounder surprised many offensive tackles with his quick first step and his powerful punch. Floyd flashes as a pass rusher when lined up as a tackle, beating guards off the snap and showing surprisingly good change-of-direction skills. You don't see Floyd taking many snaps off either, and his work ethic is unquestioned.
While Floyd is far from a perfect player, NFL coaching should continue to refine his physical gifts. The first thing the Jags' coaching staff will need to do is get Floyd to keep his pads low. Floyd has a tendency to straighten up too quickly, negating his quick first step and presenting blockers with too much body to get a hold of. This will not only help Floyd to more consistently beat blockers on his way to the QB but also allow him to be more stout against the run.
While picking Floyd might not be the sexiest pick in Jacksonville, with a team so riddled with question marks, picking the best available player, regardless of position, has to be the philosophy. Floyd is only scratching the surface of his talent, but he will give the Jags a pass-rushing presence on their defensive line from Day 1 and will be the kind of player Bradley needs on a team desperate for leadership and work ethic.
Coming Tuesday, Rob Kuestner picks third overall for the Oakland Raiders.