Missouri defensive end Michael Sam, who made worldwide headlines this week when he announced he was gay, will be one of the most scrutinized players in the upcoming NFL Draft.
Before Sam’s revelation, he was considered to be a mid-round draft pick. Here’s what some of those who cover the NFL Draft for a living have to say about him.
• “I think he’s around a fifth-round choice,” said Gil Brandt, the former Dallas Cowboys personnel director and NFL.com analyst who coordinates activities at the Scouting Combine, which starts Feb. 22. “He’s a guy who, depending on what he does in the combine, could up his grade.
“I didn’t see … what people saw who voted him SEC (defensive player of the year) … It doesn’t look like he has great explosion … quickness, which you need when you’re an undersized defensive end.
“He doesn’t have Tamba Hali’s quickness or speed … I’ll say this about him. He does play hard … There are some things you like about him, but it doesn’t equate to being a first- or second day pick.”
Brandt called Sam “a complementary player”
“Do you draft a complementary player in the first, second or third round?” he asked. “I don’t think so.
“If he runs 4.55 or 4.6 at the combine next week, and shows he can drop in space and be a linebacker, then you take the guy. But the head coach has to be a strong individual … to handle the (media) distraction …”
• Todd McShay, one of ESPN’s draft analysts, said of Sam: “He can rush the passer, he has a quick first step. He has some power for a shorter guy, and there is a place for him in the league, and he can contribute. His best fit will be with a 3-4 team at that outside linebacker position.”
• Russ Lande, a veteran publisher of draft books who now covers the NFL Draft forSports on Earth
and scouts for the Toronto Argonauts of the Canadian Football League: “He’s not a perfect player … he’s a good player with a lot of the skills to play in the NFL Whether he’s good enough to be a starter, or whether he’s a situational guy has yet to be determined.
“I think he’s more of a situational contributor, great special-teams player, great in the locker room … a leader … I have him as a third-to-fourth-round pick … I haven’t given him a final grade yet …”