In the two months leading up to the NFL draft, Florida defensive lineman Sharrif Floyd reached No. 1 on ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr.’s Big Board.

NFL Network draft expert Mike Mayock rated Floyd the No. 2 player entering the draft.

If nothing else, many expected Floyd to go No. 3, joining Steve Spurrier (1967, San Francisco 49ers), Wes Chandler (1978, New Orleans Saints) and Gerard Warren (2001, Cleveland Browns) as the highest-drafted Gators.

But when draft day finally arrived Thursday night, Floyd would have to wait to hear his name until the Minnesota Vikings selected him with the No. 23 pick.

Soon after the Vikings selected him, Floyd told the NFL Network’s Deion Sanders, “Right now there’s a chip on my shoulder and I feel like I still have to prove myself. The Minnesota Vikings did a great thing and took a chance on me. I’m not going to let them down.”

Floyd has tremendous mobility for his size and can play either 4-3 tackle or a 3-4 end. In Minnesota, he should line up inside next to Pro Bowl defensive tackle Kevin Williams.

"He's a great player, a veteran," Floyd said. "I'm excited to learn from him."

The Vikings were excited to have Floyd, proclaiming a "New Sharrif in Town" on the team Web site.

Floyd was the anchor of the nation's fifth-ranked defense in 2012, but faced with constant double-teaming he did not pile up big numbers. He finished the season with 46 tackles, including 12 for loss. Two of this three sacks, though, came in Florida's stunning 33-23 Sugar Bowl loss to Louisville.

Raiders' general manager Reggie McKenzie attended Floyd’s private workout on April 22 in Gainesville. Mock drafts everywhere pegged Floyd to go to Oakland at No. 3.

But the Raiders – in need of help at many positions – traded the pick to the Miami Dolphins, who selected Oregon pass rusher Dion Jordan.

The move left a dream scenario for Floyd, who grew up in north Philadelphia. But with the No. 4 pick, the Eagles opted for Oklahoma left tackle Lane Johnson.

Two edge rushers –BYU’s  Ezekiel Ansah and LSU's Barkevious Mingo – followed with the No. 5 and 6 selections. But Floyd’s fall was just beginning. Even when the Raiders finally picked at No. 12, they selected cornerback D.J. Hayden.

Two defensive tackles also went ahead of Floyd - Missouri’s Sheldon Richardson to the Jets at No. 13 and Utah’s Star Lotuelei at No. 14 to Carolina.

While his No. 2 player on the board fell, Mayock tried to get answers. Eventually, he said Floyd's short arms and "character issues" were red flags with some league executives.

Muschamp shot down the notion Floyd, who had bravely overcome a troubled past, had been a problem at Florida.

"There's absolutely no character issues," Muschamp said. "I don't know where that comes from. People grasp at straws when a guy falls in the NFL draft."

Leading up to the draft,

In the end, Floyd's fall from the top 10 into the 20s on the draft board was expensive, costing him more than $10 million.

Iowa OT Riley Reiff, the No. 23 draft pick in 2012, signed a four-year, $7.993 million contract, with $6.5 million guaranteed, including $4.253 million signing bonus.

Alabama running back Trent Richardson, the No. 3 pick in 2012, signed a four-year, $20.4 million contract, with a $13.6 million signing bonus.

But Floyd, 20, said he could not have found a better fit than Minnesota and defensive-minded coach Leslie Frazier.

"I couldn’t have been part of a better ball club and I’m excited to get out there and get started," Floyd said.

Email Edgar Thompson at egthompson@orlandosentinel.com. Read the Swamp Things blog at www.orlandosentinel.com/swampthings. Follow our UF coverage on Twitter @osgators.