2012 NFL Draft : Justin Blackmon or Michael Floyd? Which WR Should The Cleveland Browns Take?

By Robert D. Cobb

CLEVELAND, OH – With three weeks until the 2012 NFL Draft, the Cleveland Browns have some interesting choices to make with the No.4 pick.

With glaring needs at wide receiver, running back, quarterback and right tackle, Cleveland has been linked to prospects such as Texas A&M Aggies quarterback Ryan Tannehill, Oklahoma State Cowboys wide receiver Justin Blackmon, Alabama Crimson Tide running back Trent Richardson and USC left tackle Matt Kalil.

At No. 4, Cleveland can go in any number of directions, which makes the Browns draft strategy more complex to decipher.

If recent reports are accurate that the Browns are leaning towards trading down, one elite prospect that may be on the Browns radar may be Notre Dame wide receiver Michael Floyd.

Floyd, a 6’3 224-pound wide receiver, would lead the Irish in receiving by catching 100 passes for 1,177 yards and scoring nine touchdowns.

With a combination of speed, body control and quickness in and out of cuts, Floyd would be a perfect fit for the Browns West Coast offense due to his steady hands and the ability to go after jump balls in the red-zone.

While many mock drafts have Blackmon as the top-rated wide receiver, Floyd may be a better fit for the Browns.

Both Blackmon and Floyd have had various brushes with the law off the field—but on the field—they are both a lot alike and very different at the same time.

The 6’1 207-pound Blackmon would catch 121 passes for 1,522 yards and score 18 touchdowns from quarterback Brandon Weeden in the Cowboys 2011-12 season.

Blackmon would explode onto the national scene in 2010 under former offensive coordinator—and current West Virginia head coach—Dana Holgorsen and his “Air Raid” pass-happy offense down in Stillwater by catching 102 passes for 1,665 yards and 18 touchdowns.

Before being named Fiesta Bowl MVP, the two-time Bilentikoff Award winner would catch eight passes for 191 yards and three touchdowns in the Cowboys 41-38 Fiesta Bowl victory over No.4 Stanford.

While Floyd’s number’s are not not as impressive as Blackmon’s, one must consider that Floyd’s production as just as impressive in South Bend considering the fact that it was under second-year head coach Brian Kelly’s spread offense brought over from Cincinnati.

Another factor to look at in Floyd is that he played under three different quarterbacks in Jimmy Clausen, Tommy Rees and Dayne Crist and two completely different coaches in Charlie Weis and Kelly.

In comparing the two prospects, one must look at the fact that while playing in different systems in both Oklahoma State and Notre Dame, Floyd and Blackmon are more than just 1A and 1B to some teams, but are unique in different aspects.

In four years at Notre Dame, Floyd would set new Irish records by catching 271 passes for 3,686 yards and score 37 touchdowns in 42 games for the Irish.

Floyd would surpass Jeff Samardzija for all-time receptions with 271 and move past Golden Tate for most receptions in a year with 100.

Floyd would go on to see new Irish receiving records for most yards receiving (3,686) and receiving touchdowns (37)

Blackmon would emerge as—perhaps—the most dominant wide out in college football by catching 252 passes for 3,564 yards and 40 touchdowns.

While not as tall and physical as Floyd, Blackmon possesses an innate ability to make plays after the catch, in turning short passes into long receptions.

During his sophomore and junior seasons in Stillwater, Blackmon would catch 232 passes for 3,304 receiving yards and score 38 touchdowns.

Blackmon’s impressive average of 116 catches, 1,632 yards receiving, 19 touchdowns and yards per reception average of 14.3 would assist in him being named Big 12 Offensive player of the Year in 2010, First-Team All Big-12 (2010, 2011) consensus All-American (2010, 2011) and receive the Paul Warfield Trophy, given to the nation’s top collegiate wide receiver in 2010.

Despite such gaudy numbers, many choose to dismiss Blackmon as a elite player—and possibly the top receiver prospect—due to the lack of quality competition in the Big 12.

If that is the case, then how can one make a case for Floyd when Notre Dame plays the likes of Army, Navy and Air Force?

For the Browns it may come down to which player fits their version of the West Coast the best.

While Blackmon has impressive numbers in a pass-happy “gimmick” offense, how will he handle the physical AFC North secondaries of Baltimore, Pittsburgh and Cincinnati?

What may make Floyd the best fit for Cleveland is his knack for attacking the football at its highest point in the red zone and much more physical presence, and at 6’3 would give McCoy a much bigger target to throw to than the 6’1 Blackmon.

If Cleveland does indeed trade down to the lower half of the top ten, do not be too surprised if Floyd’s name—not Blackmon’s or Richardson’s—called by Goodell in New York.

Follow me on Twitter, @RobertCobb_76

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