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2015 NFL DRAFT

2014 NFL combine: Michael Sam clocked at 4.91 in 40

By Jeff Reynolds | NFLDraftScout.com

Michael Sam is the focus of unprecedented media scrutiny at the scouting combine. (Getty Images)
Michael Sam had a solid time in the 40-yard dash. (Getty Images)

More Draft: NFL Mock Drafts | Prospect Rankings | NFL combine workout results

Missouri defensive end Michael Sam false-started off the blocks on his initial 40-yard dash attempt at 11:30 a.m. ET, and posted an unofficial 4.79-second time in his next attempt. Sam wrapped up with a 4.84 on his second completed 40. The "official" time recognized by the NFL is 4.91.

Sam, a 6-foot-2, 261-pound defensive end for the Tigers, projects as a 3-4 outside linebacker who would fit best in a scheme similar to the New England Patriots and Baltimore Ravens.

Sam has stiff hips and ankles and isn't a fluid mover, evident in linebacker position workouts at the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala., last month. His drops were heavy-footed and he was slow to redirect.

His unofficial 10-yard split was 1.72 (first attempt) and 1.75, which is solid but not special for his projecting area of expertise.

What Sam does best is rush the passer, a niche that is heavily coveted. But his production -- 11.5 sacks in 2013 -- was marginal against elite competition despite being coronated SEC Co-Defensive Player of the Year rushing the edge opposite first-round prospect Kony Ealy.

The 'tweener label isn't a death knell. Consider former Steelers star pass rusher James Harrison came out of the MAC with a 5.2 40-yard dash time standing all of 6 feet tall but used his squat, powerful, 270-pound frame and natural rush instincts to be a five-time Pro Bowl pick, two-time All-Pro and 2008 Defensive Player of the Year. He has 66 career sacks, 29 forced fumbles.

Sam has long arms to shed blocks, but he doesn't maximize that reach on film. He also needs technique work with his hands to ever be mentioned in comparisions to players such as Harrison.

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