Floyd and Hill, Combine Impacts

Mar 6, 2012 at 8:13 AM

The term "underwear olympics" was mentioned often in NFL Network's coverage of the 2012 NFL combine. Though a quarky and unfitting description of any NFL event, the overused phrase made sense within the confines of the various drills held at the combine. For example, a football player neither runs in a straight line for 40 yards in a game unperturbed by a defender nor rarely catches a football unchallenged by a defensive back. Though many of the drills held at a combine are a reflection of an individuals physical skill set, work ethic, and star potential, it does not always represent on-field success. It is important to remember that the combine is complimentary and hardly ever the answer when it comes to assessing prospective pro football players.

During the NFL combine coverage of the QB, WR, and RB positions, a number of individuals jumped out: some sent mixed messages, while others corroborated their on-field game play. Two of the WRs that made national headlines were Michael Floyd (Notre Dame) and Stephen Hill (Georgia Tech) for their dashing display of athleticism this past Sunday.

Michael Floyd, 6'2" 220 lbs, a WR from Notre Dame, is a top 3 WR on most draft boards due to his size and production (271 receptions, 3686 yards, 37 TDs). The burning question that most scouts had about Michael Floyd (aside from his extracurricular concerns) was his straight line speed.

Film Review

On film, Michael Floyd's weakness is his lack of concentration on deep routes. Floyd also catches the ball very close to his body and almost appears to be fighting the football as it comes into his hands. His route running is mediocre at best. He gets seperation from defenders by using his size. He does not have spectacular speed running down the field. Many scouts and websites had Michael Floyd running a ~4.5 second 40 yard dash.

At Combine

On Sunday, the Minnesota native ran the 40 yard dash in 4.42 seconds (unofficially), which was a tenth of a second better than what most scouts expected. However, Michael Floyd had only an average day in on-field drills, struggling to catch a ball during "the Gaunlet" drill and bobbling the ball on a post corner route.

Overall Assessment

Though, Michael Floyd may have opened eyes with his straight line speed, he also corroborated his on-field play with the various passing drills held at the NFL combine.


No Change

Stephen Hill, 6'4" 215 lbs, was the 11th ranked WR and 92nd ranked player in this year's NFL draft according to cbssports.com.

Film Review

Stephen Hill had very few film of him catching the football. His biggest highlight was his game against North Carolina (6 receptions, 151 yards, 1 TD), where Hill hauled in an amazing one-handed grab on a ten yard route near the sideline. In that game, Hill also caught a wide open 50 yard+ pass for a touchdown. However, in that very same game, Hill dropped a wide open pass that bounced off his chest during a blown coverage. Additionally, Stephen Hill does not have the toughness to gain extra yards after the catch. Hill does not break tackles once a defender has made contact with him.

At Combine

On Sunday, Hill made national headlines for running a 4.30 second 40 yard dash and dazzled the fans with a diving catch during "go" route where the pass was to be placed on the WR's outside shoulder. Hill finished the evening with no drops in all on-field drills leaving many fans with an appetite for more. Many sports journalist drew the connection between the slinky tall wide reciever with blazing speed and great catching ability and concluded that Hill was a top prospect at the WR position.

Overall Assessment

Though there were flashes of greatness from Stephen Hill that was reminiscent of a slinky-tall receiver from Marshall heading into the 1998 draft i.e Randy Moss, there are still questions regarding his production level at Georgia Tech as well as his decision to leave Georgia Tech after his Junior season. Statistically, Stephen Hill caught 28 receptions his junior year at Georgia Tech and 45 receptions his entire college career, a low compared to most wide receivers headed to the NFL draft. Most WRs coming out of Georgira Tech that have successful NFL tenures are typically productive in College i.e. Calvin Johnson and Demaryious Thomas.


Rising pending more research
The opinions within this article are those of the writer and, while just as important, are not necessarily those of the site as a whole.


  • Rob
    Alright... I really appreciate the response but at the same time you really didnt defend any of the points you had previously made with the information that I provided... i.e his ability to take a play the distance, as you noted in another response his alligator arms (yes he should break tackles but no he does not get scared), his lack of concentration on deep balls... In all honesty man, I am not trying to be rude but you could have just typed his name in Google and gotten more accurate information... his hands, misses one here or there but plucks the ball out of the air and his route running, that was what he continued to receive tons of praise for last year... and you forgot his ability to block
    Mar 12, 2012 at 12:54 PM
    Response: I appreciate your perseverance. It is clear I do not think as highly of Floyd as you do. I did, in fact, counter several of your points, including those having to do with his successes in Notre Dame and the fact that I didn't watch any of his games. As for his ability to take a play the distance, this guy is 6'3" and 220+, if he wasn't a threat to score every time he got his hands on the ball, I wouldn't have written an article on him. I use the term alligator arms, because he does lose concentration in traffic and struggles to catch the ball in many situations. I think you are misunderstanding the point I tried to make. Floyd is a late 1st round pick. His combine performance backed up his film. I see you are a Floyd supporter. I respect that. I don't think we will come closer on this issue.
  • Rob
    How much of Floyds career have you watched, seriously, how many games have you seen? Did you watch any games with Clausen as his QB? He didnt catch deep balls the last 2yrs not because he cant run by people, which he did plenty of with Clausen, but because the QB (Rees) could throw the ball 30yds at most on his best day. I can think of multiple plays where he caught a swing pass at the line of scrimmage and ran 40,50,60,70 yards plus and no one caught him. I dont think he will run away from people in the NFL but he does have the ability to beat CBs... Also he is by far and away one of the best deep ball/jump ball WR's to come in the NFL in a while, he rarely drops a deep ball due to concentration, if anything I have watched him for 4yrs thinking the exact opposite and thinking just throw it up in the air and he is almost guaranteed to come down with it... And alligator arms, man your crazy, haha... that kid has taken some of the biggest shots I think a CB or S can deliver and he keeps on... I have seen every game and I know your job is to write articles but you really need to watch his footage with Jimmy Clausen and then tell us what you think...
    Mar 12, 2012 at 11:01 AM
    Response: I have watched several of Michael Floyd's game on NBC (Notre Dame Broadcast Company). I am a big ten guy with roots tied to the Michigan Wolverines so I know what Floyd can and can't do. When Jimmy Clausen was QB, he also had Golden Tate and Kyle Rudolph as weapons to help him spread the field. Both of these two guys are starters in the NFL. Additionally, Floyd played in a weak big ten conference. Name one CB in the big ten that was drafted in the NFL over the past 4 years that has been dominant at the NFL level. I believe Floyd is a good receiver with a big body, that is why I have him rated as a late 1st round pick. As a fan, I like Floyd, but I have to critique him fairly. For a guy rated as a 1st round pick, I EXPECT him to be able to break tackles from CB and S at the college level.
  • Nibs
    Is the stock in your opinion? Because Todd Mcshay, Mel Kiper, and Mike Mayock can all attest to the fact of Floyd's rising stock. He has solidified himself as a mid first round guy. It's undeniable that he has some of the best jump ball skills in the country, which allows him to be a great red zone threat as well. If you think Floyd's stock hasn't improved then that is a completely different matter. Just everyone disagrees with you.
    Mar 11, 2012 at 3:47 PM
    Response: Floyd was always considered a mid 1st rounder even before the beginning of the NFL combine. To say his stock has risen would suggest that Floyd is a top ten pick, which he definitely is not. I felt from the beginning that Floyd was a late 1st rounder at best. My critique of his 40 time is simply because it is not reflected in his game tape. Personally, I am a fan of Floyd ever since his high school days at Cretin Derham-Hall, but that does not change my critique of him.
  • Randall
    I don't understand why they don't have the players work out with their football gear on. It would be much more accurate for their true NFL speed and agility!
    Mar 11, 2012 at 9:16 AM
    Response: That is something to take into consideration when assessing the drills and performances of the individuals, especially the smaller guys.
  • Tod49ers
    Great article! FYI - "Underwear Olympics" was actually coined by Mike Florio of profootballtalk.com.
    Mar 8, 2012 at 4:45 PM
    Response: I stand corrected!
  • Kenny
    I agree. As you stated, there is absolutely no pressure on the player except the fact that millions of people and scouting agents are watching, which is expected in a real game anyways. Sometimes numbers from the combine alone mean nothing. (Unless, of course, this is Madden then we would go for the 4.2-3 40 yard dash receivers and the 35 bench reps for linemen) As Rick said in the previous comment, "those of all who followed football long enough know for a fact that limited tape means the player wasn't making plays. Since all we have to grade a player are his videos". Very well said and done. Waiting on more well-said and analyzed articles! Keep up the great work!
    Mar 8, 2012 at 11:28 AM
  • Rick
    @danryan Bro, those of all who followed football long enough know for a fact that limited tape means the player wasn't making plays. Since all we have to grade a player are his videos, the burden's on him to play the shit out of his games and give us enough tape to start with. Some players love to use the excuse 'well, i can't control the camera guy,' NO! Because he's busy filming the guys who are making plays.
    Mar 8, 2012 at 9:39 AM
  • Benten
    I was let down by all of those guys. The hype going into their comdine performances, spectacular! Their performances - not so much.
    Mar 8, 2012 at 9:06 AM
  • Collin
    I thought I was the only who felt that way about Hill. He knew he wasn't shining at Georgia and that's why he left. He's inconsistent. That's a big problem I have with players these days. Even Johnson was questionable and he out performed Hill.
    Mar 8, 2012 at 9:00 AM
  • Matt R.J.
    Thanks! I'll be reviewing vids on Greg and Gerell later today.
    Mar 8, 2012 at 8:54 AM
  • MacNeal
    The 2 wideouts that the 49ers should focus on are Chris Givens of Wake Forest and Marvin McNutt of Iowa. Both of these guys are much better than hill and Given can fly. The 49ers are smart enough to already know this. If it was me, I'd draft Coby Fleener in the 1st round. Just look at New England with 2 quality TE's. Then, they could get Givens or McNutt in a later round. Harbaugh knows the quality of Fleener.
    Mar 7, 2012 at 3:58 PM
  • Matt R.J.
    I went and reviewed some of his vids and sure enough Floyd has slippery hands. His stocks may have risen but I don't see how it could continue in that direction. It's going to be shortlived in the pros. Who do you think are his equals?
    Mar 6, 2012 at 10:50 PM
    Response: The WR position is one of the most glorified positions in football and most difficult to assess, because cameras are usually on the line of scrimmage. The obvious equals are probably Alshon Jeffrey and Mohammad Sanu, if you are talking about size and skills. For a guy that fits SF's West Coast Offense and also a steal in later rounds, I like Greg Childs (Arkansas) and Gerell Robinson (Arizona State). Both these guys are 6'3" 215+lbs and have good toughness after the catch.
  • Nibs
    To say Floyd's stock hasn't improved with a sub 4.4 is unrealistic. To almost all pro teams Floyd's stock has improved. His downfield ball skills are at the top of the class rivaled only by Alshon Jeffrey, and the game tape reflects that assessment. The ball skills combined with the proven explosive athleticism that he showed definitely improved his stock.
    Mar 6, 2012 at 7:54 PM
    Response: Floyd's straight line speed was much better than previously anticipated and that certainly has made him a more intriguing candidate to be drafted earlier, but to weigh the 40 yard dash so heavily as to claim his stock has improved would be disregarding many other more important facets of being a great WR at the NFL level. The 40 yard dash time, just means that he can run in a straight line for 40 yards in under 4.5 seconds. This does not take into consideration having a defender in his face. Your assessment of Floyd's ball skills is different from mine. For a guy with a 6'2" 220lb frame playing in a spread offense with first round grades, he better have some good ball skills, but he still lacks concentration under pressure and alligator arms many of his receptions, that is why I claim that his stock has not improved.
  • Bert
    underwear olympics was pretty clever.
    Mar 6, 2012 at 7:10 PM
    Response: Thank you, but thank Mike Mayock. I believe he coined that term.
  • danryan
    sometimes it's not the amount of film available on a player it's what the existing films display about the player. I think analysts do themselves a disfavor when they let limited films sway their reports. js
    Mar 6, 2012 at 6:58 PM
    Response: I do agree with your comment, that's why it was so difficult to grade Stephen Hill. However, I do believe that the majority of productive NFL WRs have successful college careers. There's always a chance that an individual was a victim of the college system that they were in, but that's very rare. When there was a lack of assessment on Darius Heyward Bey because of limited passing by Maryland, I thought...if you have a top ten NFL-caliber athlete wouldn't you find a way to get him the ball? Stephen Hill may turn out to be a great player, but his production brings a lot of things into question.
  • Raj
    Then why you presume so much emphasis is put on the combine to deliver solutions to failing teams? I'm one who believes the combine is what it's hyped up to be. That's why we're talking about it, right?
    Mar 6, 2012 at 6:54 PM
    Response: The combine was originally developed to gather all the top prospects across the nation in order to do physical and medical evaluations all in one location. Throughout the years, speed and on-field drills were added to the combine. The purpose of the combine was never to provide a verdict on potential players. This is not to say I am not a fan of the combine. I believe the combine allows for several players from big schools to corroborate their production and for players from small schools to gain some visibility from scouts. My article is just pointing out that combines should not be used without on-field, in-game assessments.
  • Matt R.J.
    Very insightful! I liked that your analysis is actually realistic! I liked Micheal Floyed but I also see the veracity of your analysis. Keep it up! I'll be back.
    Mar 6, 2012 at 5:31 PM
    Response: Thank you. I have more articles coming up so please stay tuned.

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