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Notre Dame's Floyd would be great catch

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  • Notre Dame wide receiver Michael Floyd is projected by many experts to off the board by the time the Bears pick.

      Notre Dame wide receiver Michael Floyd is projected by many experts to off the board by the time the Bears pick.
    Associated Press, September 2010


The acquisition of three-time Pro Bowler Brandon Marshall lessens the Bears' need for wide receiver help in next week's draft, but some talented pass catchers in the first round could still tempt them.

Notre Dame's Michael Floyd has a good chance of being taken in the first half of the first round, but if he's still on the board at No. 19, it might be difficult for the Bears to ignore him, even though they have more pressing needs at other positions.

Floyd has done just about everything a wide receiver can do on the field. He was a four-year starter who caught 179 passes in his final two seasons for 2,172 yards and 21 touchdowns. At 6-2 and 220 pounds, he's the prototypical big wide receiver that's currently in vogue in the NFL. Unlike many elite wide receivers, Floyd blocks and takes pride in doing it well. When he ran a surprisingly fast 4.44-second 40 at the Scouting Combine, he answered the only question NFL teams had about his physical attributes.

But, off the field, questions remain. Floyd has had alcohol-related arrests in each of the previous three years, two for underage drinking and a DUI last year.

After adhering to the restrictions and demands put on him by Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly in the wake of his latest transgression, Floyd put up the best numbers of his career (100 catches, 1,147 yards). Then at the Combine, he was repeatedly asked to convince NFL coaches he had learned from his mistakes off the field and grown from them.

"(You explain) that it's behind you," Floyd said. "That it's a mistake that happened in the past and that I'm moving forward. I think I've grown a lot. Coming to the NFL, you do have to mature because you'll get left behind (if you don't). You've got to act like a professional."

Floyd is expected to be the next wide receiver off the board after Oklahoma State's Justin Blackmon. Baylor's Kendall Wright, LSU's Rueben Randle and Georgia Tech's Stephen Hill all have first-round grades on some draft boards.

Hill is the wild card among the top wideouts. Playing in a run-heavy offense, he caught just 49 passes in three seasons, including 28 last season, but he averaged an FBS-best 29.3 yards per catch. Hill is an inexperienced and imprecise route runner with some concentration lapses who will need a great deal of coaching to maximize his talent at the next level.

But he has rare physical gifts that cannot be taught. He set the Georgia high school state long jump record (25-8) and, at 6-foot-4 and 215 pounds ran a blistering 4.31-second 40 at the Combine, where he had a 2012-best 11-foot-1 broad jump and a 39-inch vertical jump. He is a matchup nightmare for any defense. There are no NFL cornerbacks with Hill's combination of size, speed and leaping ability.

Despite his inexperience as a receiver, Hill also demonstrated soft hands at the Combine.

He has been compared to former Georgia Tech teammate Demaryius Thomas, a first-round pick (22nd overall) in 2010. The 6-foot-3, 235-pound Thomas caught 32 passes for 551 yards last season in the Broncos' conservative offense.

"Of course, both of us are big," Hill said. "I feel like I'm a little bit faster. Other than that, I'm trying to make my own name, not trying to be Demaryius."

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