Michael Sam made headlines because he came out as the first openly gay player likely to be drafted by an NFL team. Let's not go into that too much. Rather, let's take a look at what the Missouri Co-SEC defensive player of the year can offer on the field.
He's a tad bit undersized for defensive end in the 4-3 scheme used by the New York Giants, at 6-foot-2, 263 pounds, but that is not a deal-breaker.
- Tremendously productive. Had 11.5 sacks and 19 tackles for loss on the year.
- Great burst off the line of scrimmage. Best part of his game.
- Above average change of direction.
- Bend is inconsistent, but he's flashed greatness in that aspect.
- Tremendous motor and hustle.
- Limited array of pass rushing moves.
- While he's disruptive, he's inconsistent. Leverage fluctuates.
- Cannot stack well on the edge to maintain contain.
- Will get buried if running on his side.
- Hands aren't as active or heavy as you'd like to see
- Limited athleticism and length. Shows up when he's mashing against bigger offensive tackles.
Does He Fit With The Giants?
Yes. He's not just limited to a 3-4 scheme because of his size. He's got the frame to add some weight, which could help him anchor better. There's really not a better locker room for Sam than the one in New York. The Giants are a stable organization and New York City has a large and accepting LGBT community. While that matters little in a football sense, it does matter when considering fit.
Michael Sam vs. Florida (2013) (via DCheeseB)
Big Board Rankings
Big Blue View - Not ranked in top 100
Mocking The Draft - 128
CBS Sports - 110
Draft Countdown - 82
Draft Tek - 123
I think based on his athletic and size limitations, Sam will be limited to a 4-3 scheme as a nickel defensive end with the upside towards being a nice starter if things break the right way. His production shows that he certainly has a knack for finding the ball carrier and that will absolutely serve him well.
I've got him as an early to mid-fourth round pick, but his off the field situation could very well make him an undrafted player (which in my personal opinion is awful and stupid, but that's another discussion altogether). If that's the case, I would be banging on the table for him. If he's anywhere around the fifth round, I'd take him with no hesitation whatsoever. I do think he'll be an asset to his drafted team despite the limited upside.