A Path for Reggie Floyd to Make the Arizona Cardinals Roster
As recently as a year ago, Reggie Floyd was viewed as highly as a potential fourth-round NFL draft pick. Unfortunately for him, his career didn’t progress as smoothly as he would’ve liked, and he wound up not being selected in the NFL draft this past April. However, as is the case for many productive college players, he was offered a contract by the Arizona Cardinals shortly after the draft as an undrafted free agent.
As Mike McDaniel has previously written, Floyd received a three-year contract worth up to $2,293,000. Of course, neither a roster spot nor any of that money is guaranteed (aside from an $8,000 signing bonus), but he still has a chance to fulfill his dream of playing in the NFL. Although he has a lot to prove, he also has a few advantages that not many undrafted players have during such an uphill battle.
Like most undrafted players, Floyd will have to make a noticeable impact on special teams leading up to the regular season. That should give him an edge over his immediate competition, because it’s something he did early and often during his time at Virginia Tech.
He will also have to be a consistent tackler. Again, that doesn’t appear to be a significant issue, as he finished in the top three in total tackles for the Hokies in each of his three seasons as a starter, with 221 combined tackles over that span. He also didn’t appear to miss tackles very frequently.
The biggest benefit of going to a team like the Cardinals is the personnel within his position group. There’s an intriguing combination of solid, versatile top-end talent and a lack of depth behind it. Arizona appears to only have one surefire starting safety (Budda Baker), and he has evolved into a free safety – the opposite position that Floyd plays.
Baker (a Pro Bowler in 2019) has been deployed as a pseudo-cornerback at times, similarly to how they used to play Tyrann Matheiu, which is exactly what they would prefer to not do with Floyd.
The Cardinals also drafted Isaiah Simmons eighth overall this year, and – as anyone who follows ACC football extensively would know – he can play many positions, including slot cornerback. Although defensive coordinator Vance Joseph has stated that Simmons will be a true linebacker, it’s reasonable to expect him to pretty quickly evolve back into a jack-of-all-trades player once the staff really gets their eyes on him regularly.
With that said, the Cardinals have minimal need for a strong safety that excels in pass coverage, which is perfect for Floyd because that was undeniably his weakness in college. They can use Simmons similarly to how the Hokies used Chamarri Conner – at least in certain packages – while allowing the strong safety (potentially Floyd) to simply be a downhill tackler or run-stuffer. That’s precisely what Floyd thrives at.
As it stands, Floyd will ultimately be competing with Jalen Thompson, Charles Washington, Deionte Thompson, and Chris Banjo at safety. However, aside from Jalen Thompson (57 tackles as a rookie in 2019), none of the other players have ever recorded 20 tackles in a season. Even if Arizona adds a veteran safety or two when free agency resumes, there wouldn’t be anything blocking Floyd from making the roster if he made an impression on the organization.
Nonetheless, as an undrafted rookie, nothing is given and everything is earned. That means Floyd will have to put in a lot of dirty work to get noticed. Being one of the first players to practice and one of the last people to leave could go a long way, as would being coachable and having a consistently high motor. However, unlike with most undrafted players, there is a very clear path towards Floyd making the 53-man roster.
If Floyd does manage to crack a regular season roster (with the Cardinals or any other team), he will join the ranks of Kyle and Kendall Fuller, Terrell Edmunds, Chuck Clark, Brandon Facyson, Greg Stroman, Adonis Alexander and Antone Exum as former Hokie defensive backs who have made an impact at the next level over the last couple years.