by Sam Newman
Michael Sam was one of the best DE’s in the SEC, but even though he won AP SEC co-defensive player of the year he almost didn’t get drafted, and I’m here to explain why.
Sam’s draft stock was affected by multiple things, not just him being the first openly gay football player. His “coming out” before the draft might have made teams think twice about picking him, but it was for the drama that he might bring and how it might escalate faster than the Richie Incognito story from last year.
He fell from a projected mid-4th to an early 5th round draft pick because of his performance at the combine. He ran one of the slowest 40 yard dash times for DE’s, 4.91. He had the least amount of reps in the bench, 17. He then posted mediocre to below-average numbers for the rest of the combine including his measurable which the only thing that helped him was his arm length, 33 3/8”.
After his performance this all-American DE stock fell to a late 6th or 7th round pick to possibly undrafted. Scouts said that he “lacks burst and acceleration…. An inconsistent tackler…and not a very powerful tackler.” Yet, the film from college showed that he is capable of good things and explosive things. You can’t win co-defensive player of the year in one of the best conferences in college football by being a mediocre player. Everyone loved the game film but said that he needed to improve and show he’s in shape at his pro day or he could even go undrafted.
At Missouri’s pro day Sam improved his 40 yard dash time to 4.75 officially and 4.69 unofficially. He did 19 reps of bench at his pro day which was two more reps then he did at the NFL combine. He increased his vertical jump by a whole 5 inch, which can be the difference between a tipped pass and nothing. He “gutted” his way through the linebacker drills which were probably the most important part of his day. At the end of the day Sam improved well enough to show that he should be drafted.
Sam sat through the first two days of the draft with his name not being called. It was day three and it was in the seventh round, and Sam was still on the board. He saw 248 players in total get their name called before him. Finally, in the seventh round with the 249th pick in the seventh round Sam received a phone call telling him he was just drafted to the St. Louis Rams.
Now as we approach the final week in the preseason, week four, Sam still finds himself on the Ram’s 75 man roster. Now this is the hardest part, making it on the roster when it goes from 75 to 53. With the way he’s playing right now he still has a chance of making it on the Rams as a backup or third string DE and possibly playing special teams. He has played well so far, his most memorable play was most likely sacking “Johnny Football but we’ll have to find out on August 30 at 4 o’clock if he made the Ram’s roster.
Sam got cut today by the Rams. Even though he had a strong preseason he was outplayed by the, undrafted rookie, Ethan Westbrooks for the final roster spot.
Sam has just cleared the waivers and no team has picked him up yet. He awaits and hopes for a call from a team telling him that they want him on the practice squad.
It’s September second and Sam hopes for a call. It’s rumored up to five teams want him on their practice squad. Tampa Bay, Dallas, and Tennessee are the teams most interested. Later in the day it becomes official. Sam gets a call from the Dallas Cowboys telling him that they want him on their practice squad.
History was made, and Sam became the first active openly gay football player on a team. Even though it’s just the practice squad Dallas needs defensive help. Sam might actually have a chance to crack Dallas’s 53 man roster, and be the first openly gay male to play in a regular season game in the NFL.