Height: 6'2" Weight: 255 lbs
Strengths: Sam had 11.5 sacks his senior year and was named first team all-American and first team All-SEC. He was also the AP SEC Co-Defensive Player of the Year. He had three three-sack games in 2014 and was explosive off the ends. Built more like a middle linebacker, his compact frame is effective in powering past pass-blockers or sliding to stop the run. He is a violent tackler who finishes plays and occasionally shows the ability to drop back in coverage as well.
Weaknesses: His smallish size automatically puts him at a disadvantage, and he sometimes displays a stiffness that will not serve him well as a player who could be asked to cover running backs and tight ends in the NFL. Heading into his senior year, he had never had more than 4.5 sacks in a season. He also did not perform well at the combine, running only a 4.91 40-yard dash and posting average to below-average results in the vertical jump(25.5 inches), broad jump(114 inches) and three cone drill(7.8 secs).
Bottom Line: Sam made headlines before the combine when he stated in an interview that he is gay, which makes him the first openly gay NFL prospect and potentially the first openly gay NFL player. At his press conference in Indianapolis, he stated he wants to be known as Michael Sam the football player, not Michael Sam the gay football player. If and when he becomes a member of an NFL team, there will initially be a media circus environment following him. Eventually, however, his play on the field is going to be the only thing that matters. He had a very productive senior season, but is considered a tweener at the position due to his size, and his poor combine results had some scouts questioning whether he will even be drafted at all. ESPN tweeted out that in the last six combines, twenty players at the defensive end or linebacker spots were Sam's size or smaller and also ran a 4.91 40-yard dash or worse. Only three of those twenty were drafted. He has an uphill battle, but a good showing at his pro day could go a long way.
Projected Round: 4-7
Team He Fits Best On: Vikings, Dolphins, Cowboys, Saints
Michael Sam Collegiate Highlights (via XOSSports)