SOUTH BEND — The loose promise Ted Casper and Mike Runyon made to
Michael Floyd a couple of years ago about naming a burger after the
former Notre Dame star is still incubating.
The pledge Floyd made to himself is much closer to reality.
On Thursday night, ND’s all-time leading receiver is expected to
become the fourth wide receiver in school history and the first in the
22-year-old’s lifetime to be plucked in the first round of the NFL
The seven-round, three-day affair kicks off Thursday night in New York
at 8 p.m. EDT (ESPN), and Floyd and his customized gray suit will be
attending the festivities at Radio City Music Hall.
Heisman Trophy winner Tim Brown was the most recent ND wideout to come
off the board in round one, 24 springs ago.
Floyd’s steady ascent from a drunk driving arrest in March 2011 to
this moment might have seemed almost as long for Floyd and his family.
“My mom is very happy, just knowing that she doesn’t have to live
paycheck to paycheck anymore,” Floyd said of Theresa Romero, who works
at Macy’s at the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minn. “I could help
with a lot of things with the family if they need help.
“But she’s more proud of me personally that I did graduate. The whole
family’s coming down for that (the walk with his class in May).”
Perhaps they can celebrate Floyd’s latest triumph at The Nook, a bar
and grill owned by Casper and Runyon in St. Paul, Minn., that has
several burgers on its menu named after famous grads of Floyd’s high
school alma mater, Cretin-Derham Hall.
That list includes Paul Molitor, Joe Mauer and Matt Birk.
Identifying Floyd’s new favorite NFL team is a little more challenging
than naming his favorite burger joint, although the range of teams has
narrowed from the bottom, according to analyst Scott Wright of
Thought at one point to be a viable option for the Chicago Bears at
pick 19, Floyd now appears out of reach for that team, barring a
“I see him as high as the Dolphins at 8, although I don’t think that’s
likely,” Wright said Wednesday afternoon. “The Bills at 10 are the
first real possibility, and, from what I’m hearing, I don’t think he’s
going to get past the Cardinals at 13.
“There, he could be reunited with another NFL wide receiver from
Minnesota in Larry Fitzgerald. Even if Floyd does slide beyond that,
the Jets at 16, the Bengals at 17 — I think that’s his absolute
Floyd would become the third Irish player in the 2000s to be drafted
in the first round — and he may have company. Safety Harrison Smith,
also on the rise, could sneak into the bottom of the first round at
No. 28 (Packers) or No. 31 (Patriots), especially after Green Bay
released safety Nick Collins on Wednesday over health concerns.
“I actually have Harrison going 35th to the Vikings (third pick of the
second round), who have a huge hole at safety,” Wright said.
“Obviously, they drafted Kyle Rudolph last year and they signed John
Carlson, so there’s a little bit of a track record there with Notre
Dame products. So if he doesn’t go late round one, he’ll go very early
Had linebacker Manti Te’o and tight end Tyler Eifert come out as
juniors, as they both considered a few months ago, ND had the
potential for two more first-rounders, according to Wright.
“I think they both made good decisions to come back and can really
help themselves in their senior seasons,” Wright said. “In this draft,
I think Te’o would have been the third inside linebacker behind Luke
Kuechly and Dont’a Hightower.
“But there are some potential spots he could have landed late in the
first round. It would have been a possibility with a team like the
Steelers, possibly the Ravens.
“Eifert, would have been right there battling with Coby Fleener to be
the top tight end in this draft. Fleener is kind of on that
As many as seven Irish players could get drafted over the next three
days, by Wright’s estimation, but a more realistic number is four.
That still would be one of the larger draft contingents in recent
The 2003 and 2007 drafts each produced seven Irish picks and a
first-rounder as well — center Jeff Faine in 2003 and quarterback
Brady Quinn in ’07, both going to the Cleveland Browns.
But three times in the 2000s, including two of the past three drafts,
there has been only one Irish player selected. That’s quite a
departure from coach Lou Holtz’s 1988 national champs, in which 20 of
22 starters ended up getting selected.
That included three eventual first-rounders — tackle Andy Heck in
1989, cornerback Todd Lyght in ’91 and tight end Derek Brown in ’92 —
and seven second-rounders. The undrafted players on that team were
quarterback Tony Rice and defensive end Darrell “Flash” Gordon, though
Rice was picked in the baseball draft that June by the Angels.
Defensive back Robert Blanton and outside linebacker Darius Fleming
are expected to join Floyd and Smith as 2012 draftees from Notre Dame,
as early perhaps as round three on Friday night, but more
realistically in the fifth round on Saturday.
Both players have been on the rise after impressive Pro Day workouts
at ND roughly three weeks ago.
“I think Blanton’s moving up a bit, because I think teams are starting
to view him as a safety more so than a corner,” Wright said, “and this
isn’t a great crop of safeties. It’s one of the weakest positions in
this draft. If you need help there, I think Blanton is a pretty
Other late-round possibilities are offensive tackle Taylor Dever,
offensive guard Trevor Robinson and running back Jonas Gray, the
latter of whom is about five months removed from reconstructive knee
Cornerback Gary Gray, kicker David Ruffer and linebacker Steve Filer
will likely chase the NFL dream through a free-agent entry point.
Defensive lineman Ethan Johnson, a four-year regular, opted not to
work out for pro teams.
“It’s a crap shoot in the seventh round,” Wright said of projecting
the number of eventual ND draft choices. “There’s basically no
difference between a seventh-round pick and an undrafted free agent.
There are probably 300 guys who you could say, ‘He’s a possible
“Jonas Gray definitely would have been drafted if he hadn’t gotten
hurt. I think he still has a chance to go late. The injury just clouds
the matter. But if Jonas Gray is healthy, someone is going to get a
really good running back.”