Matt Vensel is in his first year at the Star Tribune after covering the Ravens for the Baltimore Sun for six years. He is a Pittsburgh native and a Penn State grad. Follow him at @mattvensel.


Mark Craig has covered the NFL for 23 years, and the Vikings since 2003 for the Star Tribune. He is one of 44 Pro Football Hall of Fame selectors. Follow him at @markcraignfl.


Master Tesfatsion is the Star Tribune’s digital Vikings writer. He is a 2013 graduate of Arizona State and worked for mlb.com before arriving in Minneapolis. Follow him at @masterstrib.


Leslie Frazier on Sharrif Floyd: Perseverance paid off

Posted by: under Off the field, Vikings, Leslie Frazier, Leslie Frazier, Vikings training camp, Vikings draft Updated: July 20, 2013 - 12:24 PM

With Vikings training camp just around the corner, we’ll kick off our extensive camp preview coverage with Sunday’s in-depth profile of Sharrif Floyd, the organization’s top pick this year and expected to have an immediate impact at defensive tackle. Floyd seems to be a perfect fit both in the Vikings’ defensive scheme and in the locker room. And as we detail in our Sunday story, his path to the NFL has been anything but ordinary, requiring great perseverance and resilience to overcome a rough childhood in Philadelphia. (Stay tuned for that piece.)

But now that Floyd has arrived in Minnesota, he’s ready to start establishing himself as a force. Recently, we had a chance to pick head coach Leslie Frazier’s brain on Floyd’s arrival. Here are some of the more notable thoughts Frazier shared. 

On the skill set Floyd brings to the table and why he’s a great fit at under tackle in the Vikings’ defense …
“I like his athleticism. That really jumps out at you when you’re watching tape. His quickness for a big man his size, his agility to be able to get off of blocks, get up the field, change directions is amazing. All the things we kind of look for in that position are there. But heading into the draft, I just didn’t think that when we were getting to pick he’d be around. Everybody is always looking for big guys. Especially teams that play the way we do in the 4-3. So I was surprised that we got him. And I think he’s going to be a pleasant surprise for us on the field as well. … His agility, his quickness, his strength and then the fact that he played multiple positions at Florida. All of those things were attractive. And when we got done grading everything, we talked about how we would stack the guys – who’s No. 1, who’s 2, who’s 3? And when I was going through it with our d-line coach [Brendan Daly], we all said the way we stack it we’re not going to have a shot at Sharrif Floyd. And yet lo and behold, we’re watching that draft and here he comes, coming our way. It was just ‘Wow.’ … I can’t remember what pick Dallas had [18th]. But I knew their coaches run a similar style to us and they were picking so close to where we were in the draft. And when he got past Dallas, then I started saying, ‘Whoa. This is a real possibility.’ Sure enough, it happened.”
 
On what’s most impressive about Floyd’s humility and ambition after all he endured growing up …
“It was like he was forced to raise himself. In the inner-city. The odds just aren’t in your favor. To be where he is today? There’s a special quality there for him to be able to take care of himself, make good decisions, wind up with the right people around. That still resonates with me. Because there are so many stories that go the other way. Sad stories. … He has an amazing quality. And myself and the staff have talked about it. A lot of times when people come up the way Sharrif did, they tend to veer off and drift in a different direction. But those who don’t, a lot of times they’re the ones who end up achieving great things. The ones who end up staying on that right path. He seems to be that type of person. He did stay away from certain things. You wonder how he was able to. But he’s the one who can achieve potential greatness because he’s seen a lot of things but made some good choices along the way.”
 
On the biggest transition for Floyd as he enters the NFL …
“For him the next greatest challenges will always be off the field. What you do in this building, in your preparation with the coaches and your teammates, it’s hard to mess that up when you’re as talented and driven as he is. But when you leave this building, there are so many things that come at you. And as much as I could try to prepare him for it by talking to him, he needs to know, you always need to keep making those right decisions. When you go back through Philadelphia, when you walk through the neighborhood, when you’re up in your hotel room, that part of the transition for all young guys – not just Sharrif – is still the biggest part of this transition. … He’ll find out quickly that he can fit in here talent-wise with the other players. But now when you get that idle time that you might not have had in college, what do you do? To me, that’s always the challenge. But he seems to be very mature in that way. He’s really focused on trying to do the right things. And I’m sure that’s because of his background and how he came through.”

 

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