Michael Sam, DE, Missouri (HT: 6’2” WT: 261 lbs)
Seventh Round: 249th Pick
NFL Comparison: Trent Cole, OLB, Philadelphia Eagles
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- Compact and thick build with a toned frame.
- Sufficient arm length despite lack of height.
- Comes off the ball with adequate acceleration.
- Prolific pass-rusher who is productive making plays in the backfield.
- Out-leverages blockers on a consistent basis by playing with low pad level into contact.
- Has a compressed frame that’s not easy for blockers to get their hands on to control.
- Quick to the corner as a speed-rusher and can take advantage of slow-footed tackles.
- Consistently rips through the hands of pass-blockers.
- Frequently beats pass-blockers on first contact by winning with his hands.
- Strong upper body to ward off blockers and split gaps working to the inside.
- Plays with resistance strength to stay on his pass-rushing arcs and not get wedged off.
- Can work to the inside of tackles and into the backfield to disrupt running plays.
- Has experience in a defense that played from multiple fronts and varied techniques.
- Rigid body type with especially stiff ankles and knees.
- Play recognition not overly developed.
- Motor isn’t especially high.
- Lacks a variety of pass-rushing moves and can be predictable.
- Struggles to bend around blocks on the corner due to a lack of flexibility.
- Doesn’t spin back to the inside when pass-blockers mirror the speed rush on the corner.
- Not a power rusher who can compress the pocket from the outside despite a thick build and low pad level.
- Struggles to hold up at the line of scrimmage against drive blocks and doesn’t generate power to stand up blocks.
- Needs to play with more balance while engaged with blocks while keeping his shoulders square.
- Doesn’t consistently shed run blocks while containing plays on the edge.
- Highly ineffective and unproductive chasing down plays in pursuit.
- Does a poor job wrapping up as a tackler to finish plays.
- Plays flat-footed in coverage and struggles to move laterally or play route breaks.
- Only played on the left side of Missouri’s defense, little experience playing from the right side.
- Was ranked as the 75th overall defensive end prospect in the ESPN 150 as a 3-star recruit out of Hitchcock, Texas.
- Decommitted from Iowa State after the departure of Gene Chizik and signed with Missouri.
- Named SEC Co-Defensive Player of the Year in 2013.
- Became the second unanimous All-American in Missouri Tigers football history in 2013.
As one of the most productive pass-rushers in the country as a senior, Michael Sam has garnered accolades and attention as a draft prospect. Specific athletic limitations including a lack of flexibility and a lack of optimal size are concerning.
Sam also isn’t a multi-dimensional rusher despite the high number of sacks. He still projects as a pass-rush specialist in the NFL because his prospects as a run defender are even direr. For 4-3 defenses looking for depth at end or a rotational rusher for third downs, Michael Sam makes sense.
Draft Projection: Fifth Round
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