He’s been under a microscope ever since he made the announcement that he is gay, making him the first openly gay prospect/player to ever play in the NFL. No matter where you stand on the issue, Michael Sam is a pioneer. And like most pioneers before him, he has to face several obstacles before making history and achieving his goals.
A lot of speculation has been about where Sam will be taken in the draft and what position he would play once he has found a team. Sam answered some of those questions based on the numbers he gave to NFL scouts this past weekend in Indianapolis. Here’s a run down of his numbers from most of the workouts.
- Height- 6’2″
- Weight- 261 pounds
- 40 yard dash- 4.91 official (4.79 unofficial)
- Bench Press- 17 reps of 225lbs
- Vertical Jump- 25 1/2
- Broad Jump- 114″
I don’t think many were expecting to see Michael Sam post superstar numbers at the combine, considering he was projected as a mid round pick already, but his sub-par performance certainly didn’t hurt him enough to be taken off any draft board.
The number that probably hurt Sam the most was the amount of reps he put up during the bench press portion for the defensive lineman. He entered the draft with some skepticism surrounding his strength-which if you’re going to play defensive line in the NFL, it’s typically a very important trait to carry. Sam’s 17 reps of 225 pounds was one of the worst numbers for all defensive lineman that were participating, finishing only better than UCLA’s Cassius Marsh.
That’s not good, and it’s something Sam will really need to focus on as he enters the first season of his NFL career.
The other big thing many scouts have trouble with is what position do they compare his measurables with? Is he a defensive lineman, or an outside linebacker?
After running a 4.91 forty, his hopes of making the transfer to outside linebacker, or, stand-up pass rusher are all but over. Offense’s in the NFL could take advantage of Sam’s lack of speed on the outside too easily, especially in today’s game.
Sam has already proven that he’s a worthy prospect to NFL teams after completing an excellent senior season with the Missouri Tigers. A season in which he earned co-SEC Defensive Player of the Year. So naturally, he’s grabbed a ton of teams attention with his play on the field.
It’s the other attention that has teams worried. How is he handling all the chatter since his coming out? Could it possibly affect his character, and how will his future teammates embrace this certain attention?
Sam has had to face a lot of concerns and questions from the media, and teams, that involve his sexuality and how it will translate into NFL locker rooms. Through it all though, he’s taken on anything and everything that has been thrown at him, especially during his first meeting with the media at the combine.
Sam killed it at his press conference, not shying away from the hard questions he knew he would have to face. He was very calm in demeanor, and came across as a very intelligent young man, something that most NFL scouts judge and take very seriously. He was even asked if he would have issues playing for the Miami Dolphins- who’ve been the headline of a pressing issue concerning bullying in NFL locker rooms. Sam replied with:
“If the Miami Dolphins drafted me, I would be proud to be part of that organization,” he said. “But I’m not afraid of going into that environment. I know how to handle myself, I know how to communicate with my teammates, I know how to communicate with my coaches, and any other staff.”
Sam is clearly comfortable with who he is and is ready to take on the challenges he will face once he starts his professional career. Certainly, Sam will come with a bit of a media circus once a team does decide to select him. But just like Manti Teo’ or Tim Tebow, eventually the storm blows over and no one gives a care.
Michael Sam proved to scouts what they already know about him – he’s a hard worker with great character who has the measurables of a player who’s expected to be taken somewhere in the middle rounds of the draft. So while his workouts were a bit disappointing, it wasn’t a complete disaster or waste of time for him.
We’ll see how he performs at Missouri’s pro day on March 7th.