Michael Sam   LB/DE   Missouri

TALENT BOARD ROUND 3

STRENGTHS
Michael has solid overall athleticism to play in the NFL. He is smart and shows good overall strength and has the football intelligence to play more than one position for the team that selects him. He has those long arms and legs that allow him to get into the backfield quickly in order to shed blockers and make tackles. He shows a good burst to the ball and, if you make a mistake against him when pass blocking, he will make you pay quickly. He is relentless and does a very good job stringing out plays to his side so others can make a tackle on sweeps and screens. He has played defensive end in a 4-3 defense for his college team from mostly a three point stance and has been an impact pass rusher for his college team. Michael has excellent leadership skills through his play on the field and if given the time to reach his potential should become a core player for the team that drafts him.

CONCERNS
Some teams might feel that Michael is too small to play defensive end in a 4-3 and may not have the agility and foot speed to play linebacker, but I think he will fit fine as a rush OLB in a 3-4 defense as long as he is willing to work hard and learn better pass rushing techniques. He has an excellent inside rush, but his upfield rush needs a lot of work because he favors his inside leg too much and loses leverage and the ability to turn his hips and drop his shoulder and drive through his opponent once he gains the advantage. Michael is also very poor at stopping the run right at him and doesnít use his hands or long arms very well when trying to stop the run. If Michael is expected to change positions to more of a stand-up linebacker position, he will have to learn to anticipate and improve his instincts when it comes to defending the run.

BOTTOM LINE
Michael reminds me a lot of Teddy Bruschi when he came out. He was a down lineman and a pass rusher who was very productive for his college team but because of a lack of true size and athletic agility, the Patriots decided to make Teddy more of a true linebacker and he became a good one. I know that Michael can be a rotation defensive lineman, but Iím not convinced he will impact like he has for his college team being used that way. I believe he will be more impactful if he is ready to embrace a position change, learn a linebackerís true responsibilities and become a coach on the field. If he is, then I believe Michael can become a core player for the team that selects him. I like Michaelís leadership skills and his football intelligence. He might have to slim down a little to gain some agility and flexibility, but I think if he learns to play the run better, Michael has a chance to be a core player for the team that drafts him. He can be as good as Teddy Bruschi was for his team. Michael is a developmental player who may need a position change to become a productive player and that could affect his value to all 32 teams. Look at Robís board to find out what round Michael is most likely to be selected in.

Drew Boylhart
FEB/2014