SOUTH BEND IN - SEPTEMBER 25: Michael Floyd #3 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish catches a pass as Barry Browning #31 of the Stanford Cardinal tries to defend at Notre Dame Stadium on September 25 2010 in South Bend Indiana. Stanford defeated Notre Dame 37-14. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Tomorrow night Michael Floyd will become the first Notre Dame player to be drafted in the first round since Brady Quinn in 2007. Since then, Jimmy Clausen, Golden Tate, Kyle Rudolph, John Carlson and Trevor Laws have all been selected in the second round, but none have cracked the first thirty-two. If Floyd is selected in the first ten picks, he'll become the first Irish player with that distinction since Bryant Young in 1994, an incredibly depressing streak that really explains a lot about the woes of the last eighteen years. Should Harrison Smith sneak into the first round as well - a possibility, with multiple mocks having him as a Packer or Raven on Friday morning - it will be the first time Notre Dame has had multiple players selected in the first round since, again, 1994. To state the obvious, it's probably a clear sign you've had a successful football program when you have multiple players going in the first round, with the opposite also holding true.
The draft is the ultimate guessing game, as prognosticators whose sole professional goal is to predict what will happen seldom doing better than a 25% success rate. I've perused mocks and read all of the fourth-hand rumors, but this is the epitome of just taking stabs in the dark. Anything could happen tomorrow night, but here's a travel guide - written while blindfolded in a basement, waving a sword around - to where Michael Floyd as you flip over during the commercial breaks of Parks and Recreation.
(For the purposes of this post, I'm going to look only at teams drafting at the top or who have shown interest in a Floyd-level wide receiver later in the draft.)
The non-factors: Indianapolis, Washington
Both the Colts and Redskins will be selecting potential franchise quarterbacks with the first two picks Thursday night, with neither even considering the possibility of moving down. The Redskins couldn't trade up if they wanted to (the Rams acquired Washington's next dozen first round picks for the right to draft RGIII) and the Colts have enough holes - and a re-signed Reggie Wayne - that I doubt they'll be mortgaging any of their future to move up to snatch Floyd.
The slim chance: Tampa Bay
The Bucs appear to be leaning towards Trent Richardson (as new coach Greg Schiano attempts to capture the glory of Rutgers' Ray Rice-led 2007 season) or Morris Claiborne (to combat six games a year against Brees, Newton and Ryan). I don't think I've seen a single mock that had the Bucs going wide receiver here.
The wild cards: St. Louis, Minnesota
The Rams have already traded down once to the six spot, and they definitely could use a stud wideout to pair with Sam Bradford, who had his receiving corps swapped with a MASH unit last year. It seems likely that the Rams end up with Justin Blackmon, but there is the possibility they either A) End up favoring Floyd more at the eleventh hour or B) Trade down a few spots, pick up a pick and still end up with a very capable wide receiver a little lower in the draft.
The most likely scenario seems to be the Vikings just selecting Matt Kalil in at attempt to protect Christian Ponder. However, it certainly a possibility that they move down from the three spot and take the hometown boy to play with their growing stockpile of Irish talent (Rudolph, Carlson, John Sullivan). An offense featuring Percy Harvin, Adrian Peterson, Floyd, Carlson and Rudolph is certainly enticing, but it'll depend on the interest of other teams to move up. They could, of course, also just select Blackmon at three as well.
The worst-case scenario: Jacksonville
Watching Mike Floyd play in a heinously-colored uniform in front of a half-filled stadium with a terrible quarterback for a franchise that will probably relocate in the next few years is not an ideal situation, to put it lightly. A lot of recent mock drafts have had the Jaguars taking a defensive linemen here, which we can only pray to the football gods is accurate. Let's take a moment to watch Blaine Gabbert's pick in the 2010 Insight Bowl, still one of the worst throws I've ever seen.
The teams who might make a really bad decision: Cleveland, Miami
It seems more and more likely that either the Browns or Dolphins are going to leave Thursday night with Ryan Tannehill as their quarterback, the converted wide receiver from Texas A&M who helped orchestrate some of the biggest implosions from the 2011 football season. It's possible Tannehill's only recent conversion to quarterback means that he has tremendous upside and will only get better for the team that takes him. There is one giant, waving red flag: Todd McShay is a huge supporter of Tannehill. When McShay is in your corner, it probably means something in your life has gone awry, even if it's of no fault of your own.
If the Browns take Tannehill with the fourth pick, the Dolphins become a decent candidate to draft Floyd, as they traded away Brandon Marshall in the offseason and appear to have no plan in a world where they didn't sign Peyton Manning or Matt Flynn. Perhaps the best case for the Browns would be to trick Miami (not difficult) into moving up to four spot, then taking Floyd down at eight.
I've also seen it posited that the Browns might take Richardson with the fourth pick, then package their extra first round pick acquired in the Julio Jones trade last year to get a second selection in the top half of the draft, grabbing Floyd. Adding Richardson and Floyd would give
Matt Barkley Landry Jones Colt McCoy a few very nice weapons to work with, but would require a bit of draft night maneuvering.
The dream: Carolina
Let's just take a few moments to imagine the next decade of Cam Newton throwing bombs to Michael Floyd, because it seems likely that the Panthers are going to take a defensive lineman and dash these wonderful thoughts. I would just suggest to any members of the Panthers front office who are obviously reading this that you would have a tremendous one-two punch with Steve Smith (pugilist pun intended) and Floyd, with the latter taking over as the number one option as Smith eventually retires. But sure, go get some boring defensive lineman just to win in the trenches and feel like real manly men.
The favorites: Buffalo, Arizona
The Bills and Cardinals share a number of traits, including rather dominant number one receivers (Stevie Johnson, Larry Fitzgerald), young-ish quarterbacks signed to questionable extensions (Ryan Fitzpatrick, Kevin Kolb), the need for an offensive tackle and the fact their names popping up next to "Michael Floyd" on a number of drafts. Fitzgerald even dropped the little nugget to Peter King that he would love for his fellow Minnesotan to join him in the desert, hopefully being able replicate the Fitz-Anquan Boldin one-two punch of yesteryear.
The slip down or trade up possibilities: New York Jets, Chicago, San Diego
Should Floyd tumble past the Cardinals at thirteen or any of these teams feel inspired to move up to select him, it wouldn't be a shock to see St. Michael either as a Jet, Bear or Charger. He would be considered a steal that late in the draft, and a good value pick for any of these three. If you wanted to add the 49ers or Giants to this list, feel free, but there would have to be considerably more slipping or moving up to make it happen.