Sam passes the size-strength ratio measurement most teams are looking for in a defensive lineman who can play more than one position and in different defensive fronts. He changes the line of scrimmage on almost every play and holds his man up to shed and make tackles. He has a good inside rush move and, although he is lacking the foot speed that you would like to see when he pass rushes, he gets into the backfield and to the quarterback with long strides and sneaky quickness. He has those long arms that can knock down a lot of passes at the line of scrimmage and help keep offensive linemen away from his body. Sam looks to be an excellent teammate and works within the structure of the defensive system. I believe he has been playing out of position for his college team. Sam is a perfect fit for a strong side defensive end in a 4-3 or 3-4 because of his natural strength and use of leverage to change the line of scrimmage. He needs a lot of work technique-wise to reach his full potential, but it looks like on film he has the work ethic and character to do it.
Sam lacks pass rushing techniques that he will have to learn in the NFL. He lacks the foot speed and agility to rush the passer from the blind side, but as a strong side defensive end, he can learn the power rush moves he will need to be very effective against a right tackle. He has to learn to play aggressively on every down and against all types of competition. Currently, he doesn't show any leadership skills, but that could change as he gets better. Sam also has to learn the techniques that will allow him to shed and make tackles more quickly. He also has to learn to read the way he is getting blocked, then understand and anticipate how to control those blocks. In spite of this steep learning curve, Sam has excellent developmental skills to become a solid and effective strong side defensive end.
I'm not going to tell you that Sam is going to be a double digit pass-rushing demon. I am going to tell you that he will be an excellent strong side defensive lineman who can stop the run and has pass rushing potential; these players are very hard to find. As we get closer to the draft and Sam works out, I think many teams are going to be very interested in him. They will go back and look at the film and realize that he is playing on the wrong side of his college team's defensive line and because of that, everyone is expecting him to be a better pass rusher than he is. It's affecting his draft status. When you look at him against a left tackle, you're assuming he is going to perform these great pass rushing moves, make a lot of sacks and be in the backfield disrupting plays all over the place. When he doesn't, you start to take your eyes off him and look to more flashier players; however, Sam is excellent at what he does and what he does off the snap is change and control the line of scrimmage. Controlling the line of scrimmage with natural strength, balance and lateral agility is the first step in become a great defensive lineman. Everything else you can learn. Sam is the type of player who will play for a very long time and when everything is all said and done, he will be one of the best defensive linemen selected in this draft. Draft him and give him a couple of years. He will impact, become a core player and a fan favorite, but he might not have double digit sacks in any one season. I suspect from the 15th pick on that teams are going to be very interested in drafting Sam because he is unique; there are not many that can do what he can do naturally which is change the line of scrimmage at his size and with his strength.
Drew "The B.S. Detector" Boylhart