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2016 NFL DRAFT

Michael Sam, DE

School: Missouri  |  Conference: SEC
College Experience: Senior  |  Hometown: Hitchcock, TX
Height/Weight: 6-2 / 261 lbs.
Projected Ranking
OverallPositionProj. Rnd.
169155

Player Lowdown

Combine Results
40 Yd 20 Yd 10 Yd 225 Bench Vertical jump Broad Shuttle 3-Cone Drill
4.792.751.6117 25 1/29'6"4.707.80
Workout Results
40 Yd 20 Yd 10 Yd 225 Bench Vertical jump Broad Shuttle 3-Cone Drill
4.71--19 ----

Strengths Weaknesses

STRENGTHS: Sports a compact, well-developed frame. Very good initial quickness to explode past offensive tackles and apply pressure on the quarterback.

Uses his natural leverage advantage well, keeping his legs driving to overpower much bigger opponents on the bull-rush, while also mixing in effective rip and club moves to keep blockers' hands off his chest. Accelerates smoothly and closes in a flash, showing good power for the knockdown and technique to wrap securely.

Considering his size, Sam is surprisingly effective in run defense. Can slip gaps due to his quickness to penetrate and make a big play behind the line of scrimmage and shows good power, knee bend to anchor and create a pile when run at. Good awareness, quickness and balance to recognize and defeat cut-blocks.

Occasionally asked to drop back in this scheme, showing awareness and at least fair fluidity. Active defender who searches the ball and pursues with passion.

WEAKNESSES: Not quite the sum of his parts due to size and flexibility limitations. Does not possess ideal length and therefore, struggles to separate from blockers once engaged. Impressive burst upfield is mitigated by average core flexibility, limiting his ability to turn the corner in one fluid motion.

Only occasionally asked to drop into coverage in this scheme, making his conversion to outside linebacker a true projection, especially given his average ability to change directions.

COMPARES TO: Elvis Dumervil, OLB, Baltimore Ravens - Few undersized pass rushers are capable of beating the odds like Dumervil but he's the model optimists will point to in projecting Sam to the NFL. Like Dumervil, Sam has an explosive burst and is more powerful than his relatively short frame might suggest.

--Rob Rang

Player Overview

Sam made a bold decision to publicly announce he is gay before the NFL Scouting Combine, getting ahead of the news before it leaked through the media. While the announcement made national headlines, Sam's primary goal is to convince scouts he can excel as a pass rusher in the NFL.

Despite being named the co-SEC Defensive Player of the year in 2013 after leading the conferences in both sacks (10.5) and tackles for loss (18.0) during the regular season, there are concerns he lacks the size to stand out as a defensive end and Sam struggled with his fluidity when asked to practice at outside linebacker at the Senior Bowl.

Rated as the No. 75 defensive recruit in the country by ESPN coming out of Hitchcock, Texas, Sam played on both sides of the trenches in high school.

He redshirted in 2009 before entering the rotation the following season and producing 24 tackles, including 7.0 for loss, to go with 3.5 sacks and two forced fumbles.

Sam was again a rotation player as a redshirt sophomore, finishing with 29 tackles, including 3.0 tackles for loss, and 1.5 sacks. He started nine of 12 games in 2012 and finished four on the team with 7.0 tackles for loss and 3.5 sacks.

Sam capped off his Tigers career by joining Jeff Gaylord (1981) as the only Missouri Tigers to win conference defensive player of the year honors. He also was a unanimous first-team All-SEC pick by the Associated Press, and first team by the coaches.

Sam certainly has the production against top competition to intrigue scouts. He's very quick off the snap, showing the ability to attack off the edge as well as the burst to penetrate through gaps.

"I think Michael Sam is an effective outside pass rusher," Titans general manager Ruston Webster said at the Scouting Combine. "He has some strength at the point. But his main thing is getting up the field and rushing the passer and putting pressure on the quarterback. He was obviously very productive doing that."

At 6-feet-2, 255 pounds, Sam could earn the dreaded 'tweener label from scouts who may see him as too short for defensive end and a project as a stand-up outside linebacker, pushing the productive defender into the second or even third round.

"I think he's got a little bit of both to him," Bucs general manager Jaon Licht said when asked if Sam is a pass rusher or linebacker. "You look for versatility and that's good."

Despite Sam being poised to become the first openly gay male to play in the NFL, coaches and executives to a man said at the combine that if Sam can play, his personal lifestyle will not be an issue.

"I think he'd be welcomed. It'd be no different than any other player we have," said Jets coach Rex Ryan. "One thing I know for sure, you're going to have 53 different players and they're all different - different religious beliefs, what they look like, height, weight, married, single, any of these.

"Everybody's different. But the main thing we talk about is respect in our locker room. And even though everybody's different, it's a respect thing. If the young man's a good football player and a good teammate, that's all we ask. So he'd fit in just like the rest of our guys."

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Player News
05/12/2014 - Rams make history; now it's time for football...The Rams are accustomed to making history. It may have been 68 years ago, but in 1946, one year before Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in major league baseball, the Rams signed the first black player in the so-called modern era, Kenny Washington. There had been blacks in the early years of the game, but they were banned after the 1933 season. The signing of Washington ended a 12-year stretch without black players. Told that fact, Sam said, "The Rams know what the hell they're doing."

Still, there were other opportunities to select Sam since the Rams had two picks in the sixth round and used two earlier seventh-round picks on other players. But as punters and small-college players went off the board, as well as players that the league didn't even have information on, and Sam's name wasn't being called, head coach Jeff Fisher believed it was time. A few picks before they would use their final two choices in the draft, Fisher had conversations with chief operating officer Kevin Demoff and owner Stan Kroenke and the decision was made along with general manager Les Snead. Said Fisher, "From a historic standpoint, I'm honored to be a part of that as Les and Kevin and Mr. Kroenke are. Again, Michael's a good football player and you guys would know if you paid much attention to the response by some of his new teammates, but they're pretty excited to have him in the building. "It was the right thing to do at the right time." Still, the Rams didn't select Sam for the positive headlines it would generate. They believe, even within a very competitive position group, that Sam can help make it better. Yes, as Sam knows, aside from the obvious storyline, whatever happens on the field will be all up to him. - The Sports Xchange

 

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