Why Michael Floyd Could Be Ready for a Huge Year

Continued efficient development out of Michael Floyd could make him the league's next star wideout.

As Richard Sherman noted, to get through the brutal NFC West, the playoffs and the NFC Championship, mediocre wide receivers need not apply. If the Arizona Cardinals want to play a home game in the Super Bowl this season, all of their shiny toys will need to be on full display. The electric Andre Ellington will be taking over the running back duties, which along with a solid defense, should strap a jetpack to the Cardinals chances. And Larry Fitzgerald, of course, is still one of the most productive and reliable wide receivers in the game.

But one threat for the Cardinals who figures to make a big leap this year is Michael Floyd. For whatever reason, Floyd seemed like an afterthought to many in 2013. Perhaps it was his dismal rookie season with a collection of quarterbacks throwing to him that made the 2013 Cleveland Brown passers look like All-Pros. Or maybe lining up across from the more heralded Fitzgerald was a key reason Floyd seemed to fly under the radar. Whatever the case, it appeared as though not enough people were truly aware of his production in 2013. And because of that, many may not be aware of what his potential looks like in 2014, too.

Floyd has everything that NFL Combine geeks look for in an NFL wideout. With prototypical wide receiver size (6'2'', 220 pounds) and quick speed (4.47 40-yard dash), Floyd has the potential to be a stud at the position. And really, he's already started on the path to being a superstar, with a solid, yet under-appreciated sophomore campaign.

To show you just how underrated his season was, take a look at the chart below that shows other wide receivers who had similar volume as Floyd in 2013.

PlayerRec.TargetsReception NEPRec. NEP/TargetSuccess Rate
Torrey Smith6513797.73 (16th)0.71 (18th)90.77% (11th)
Keenan Allen7110496.42 (17th)0.93 (1st)90.14% (13th)
Michael Floyd6611396.41 (18th)0.85 (8th)96.97% (1st)
Marques Colston7511191.56 (19th)0.82 (10th)94.67% (3rd)
T.Y. Hilton8313989.17 (20th)0.64 (21st)80.72% (34th)
Larry Fitzgerald8213585.59 (21st)0.63 (23rd)81.71% (30th)

We're not talking about bottom-of-the-barrel receivers here - the list above shows a very successful group of pass-catchers, most of which were highly regarded in 2013. But you could make the argument that Floyd was the best of them all.

Among the 37 receivers with 100 or more targets last year, Floyd ranked 18th in Reception Net Expected Points (NEP), a measure of the number of points a player adds on catches only. And when you take that number and divide it by the number of targets Floyd saw - essentially showing efficiency - Floyd ranked eighth among the group.

To make things even better, his 96.97% Success Rate was tops among wide receivers with 100-plus targets last year. In other words, when Floyd caught a pass, no other player was contributing positively for his team at a higher rate than Michael Floyd. This could be due to the fact that Floyd had a whopping 48 first downs on his 66 catches. For context, Calvin Johnson was next closest at 95.24%.

Consider some of the players in the table above who generated more hype than Floyd did last season. For instance, Keenan Allen was so money last year with his 71 receptions, 1,046 receiving yards and 8 touchdowns that, if a Swingers sequel came out, he'd probably have a cameo. But guess what? Floyd's Reception NEP was virtually identical to Allen's, while Floyd equaled Allen's receiving yards with 1,041. He also flashed big-play potential with 17 catches over 20-plus yards.

That's not even mentioning that Floyd did most of his damage with shoulder and ankle injuries last year.

Essentially, using these advanced metrics, you can see that Floyd performed at a level equal or better than the players in the table who seemed to generate more buzz. Yet, there's reason to believe that he should be considered in that highly regarded group of wide receivers (or better) going forward.

The question now becomes: What's his upside? When thinking about a player that Floyd may project out to in his third year, why not look at someone who has nearly identical size and speed, like, say, Dez Bryant (6'2'', 222 pounds, 4.52 40-yard dash)? Interestingly enough, their second-year metrics are as close as you'll find between two wideouts.

Year TwoRec.TargetsReception NEPRec. NEP/TargetSuccess Rate
Floyd (2013)6611396.41 (18th)0.85 (8th)96.97% (1st)
Bryant (2011)6410492.39 (18th)0.89 (5th)90.63% (14th)

Bryant's second season arguably ranked worse overall than Floyd's, when you consider Floyd's outstanding Success Rate. But there are striking similarities between the two campaigns, as both players saw a similar number of catches, targets and Net Expected Points totals. Both actually had 48 first downs as well.

What may bode the best for Floyd is how Bryant played in his third year. You can find that information below.

Year ThreeRec.TargetsReception NEPRec. NEP/TargetSuccess Rate
Bryant (2012)92138110.60 (10th)0.80 (11th)88.04% (22nd)

In that 2012 season, Bryant posted 92 receptions for 1,382 yards and 12 touchdowns on 138 targets. Bryant's Reception NEP in his third year was 110.6 with an 88.04% Success Rate, all close to top 10 numbers. That efficiency is certainly a possibility for Floyd, especially if Carson Palmer continues to send more targets his way in both the red zone and deep down the field. With the potential for a better offensive line, running game and an aging number one wide receiver, it's certainly possible.