Michael Sam, the former Missouri Tiger defensive lineman that made headlines for coming out as gay months before the NFL Draft does not seem to be impressing NFL scouts. At the recent NFL combine, Michael Sam did not stand out according to critics, which were wanting to see an improvement from where they originally pegged him.
Before his coming out, Sam was said to be a third round pick at best. While Sam, along with Alabama's CJ Mosley were co-SEC Defensive Players of the Year, this is not enough for him. Mosley is said to be a first or second rounder, being cited as one of the better linebackers coming into very deep draft.
Sam has the main issue of comparison. Easily South Carolina's Jadeveon Clowney is the best defensive player in the draft, and he also plays in the defensive line. Most feel he is THE best player in the draft. So Sam being on the D-Line hurts him in some ways because of Clowney's greatness.
Clowney was already highly touted coming into the combine....then he ran a 4.4 and 4.5 40 yard dash. This is where some running backs and wide-receivers run, even cornerbacks. And this is a lineman that's over 250 lbs. So then we have Sam, who did not have a bad college career. Again, he has won awards for his work with the Tigers. They had a beloved defense because of people like Sam, and that's obvious.
Sam had a really good showing in front of the media at the combine, but his actual combine stats were not beloved. While he did run a good 4.9 40 yard dash, everything else left much to be desired. Again, comparing this to Clowney's 4.5 at worst, Michael Sam did not impress as much as he should have.
Most felt that Sam was small enough to where he could potentially fit in as a linebacker if a team was skeptical on his size within the D-Line. So he did the "line-backer conversion drill", which he again left scouts with little impression within. Scouts were skeptical of him even doing the drill, as he failed to show enough athleticism in drills prior, but they still hoped for more.
Going in, one of the biggest issues with Sam was athletic ability. When you see someone like Clowney destroying due to freak athletic ability, you hope to see someone else who has the same sort of tools. Obviously there is only one Clowney, but anyone close could help an NFL team drastically.
Scouts want to like Sam, they really do. His story will help put people in seats and GLADD would be behind any team who takes him. The issue is, if he's not performing at the level he needs to, then his story means zilch.
When it comes down to it, the NFL is looking for big time athletes on the line and in the line-backing core. In the NFL as well, lineman have to enter coverage at times, and people at Sam's size usually end up playing stand-up defensive end or linebacker a lot, instead of hands down pass rushing. Sam is a great pass rusher and can stop the run relatively well. The one place he really sucks as far as the pure game goes only would be in coverage. Back-peddling alone is something that literally tripped him up.
People will claim that the Sam hate is all due to homophobia, when in reality it has nothing to do with that. Again, he was not highly touted before he came out, so why would he be just because he claimed he was gay? There is no reason.
So looking at him now and his terrible combine, he may have dropped. This is just to with football and nothing more. Most feel that he may drop due to this, potentially as late as the fifth or sixth round unless he does something to wow scouts beforehand.
So far, nothing special has come from Michael Sam, and scouts aren't holding their breath to expect anything either. This is not a good thing. Being from the "show me state", you'd think would actually live up to the state motto.