2015 Breakout Candidate: Sharrif Floyd

“No individual goals, but I do want to top everything I did last year. I want to make this a statement year so this year I’m aiming high,”

For the last couple of decades, Minnesota Vikings fans have been spoiled by great defensive tackle play. During the 1990s, an undrafted free agent John Randle was picked up by the franchise and never looked back. The 2010 Hall of Fame inductee made six Pro Bowl’s and six All-Pro team while playing in purple and in 1997 he led the NFL in sacks with 15.5 which is remarkable since he is a defensive tackle. He was also named to the 1990s All Decade Team. Three years after he departed for Seattle, the Vikings drafted Kevin Williams who would be a force for their defense for the next decade. During his eleven seasons, Williams six Pro Bowl’s and five All-Pro teams. He was also named to the NFL’s All 2000’s Decade Team. In 2005, Kevin Williams was joined by Pat Williams which only helped to elevate the defense. Pat Williams made three Pro Bowl’s and was named 2nd All-Pro team in 2007. Both Kevin and Pat were known as the “Williams Wall” and thanks to their size and skill, the Vikings led the league in rushing defense from 2006-2008 and was also top five in 2009.

John Randle (left). Kevin Williams (top right). Pat Williams (bottom right)

Sharrif Floyd may have some big shoes to fill, but Vikings fan have to be pleased with what they’ve seen so far. Despite having battled various injuries his first two seasons, Floyd has shown himself to be an all around great defender for this team. According to Pro Football Focus, Floyd graded out as a top five defensive tackle in 2014. He also ranked ninth in run stop percentage and fourteenth in pass rushing productivity. It’s definitely worth noting that in his third season under Mike Zimmer (when he was the Bengals DC), Geno Atkins had a breakout year recording 12.5 sacks, a trip to the Pro Bowl and was named an All-Pro.

If Floyd is willing to take in everything that Zimmer is preaching, the sky will truly be the limit for this guy. The Vikings have some damn good pieces on defense but as a whole, they will only go as far as this defensive line can take them. Floyd is their best defensive linemen and one of the overall better players on defense, so since many football pundits expect the Vikings defense to take a major step forward, they’ll need Floyd to lead by his play so others will follow. I don’t think Floyd will be a double digit sack man in 2015, but I do think he’ll get close. The more his play elevates, the better chances those around him will have to make plays.

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