By now, we all know who Michael Sam is, along with the obstacle he is trying to overcome on his way to making NFL history. But he has asked us to think of him as a football player first, and that’s how I’m going to approach this.
At the combine, he measured in on the short side (6’2”) and is considered egregiously undersized (261 pounds) to play defensive end at the next level. At best, teams are looking at him as a core special teamer who can come in on passing downs as a rush specialist. But to make matters worse, he put on a horrible show in nearly every drill at the combine.
He revealed his lack of explosiveness at the combine, and it may have some teams worried he won’t find success in the pass-rush department either. After all, Sam’s productivity at Missouri came in one season, and it came in clumps. NFL Network’s Charles Davis talked about this as a concern on NFL Total Access a week ago, saying that you have to be cautious about pass-rushers who get their sacks in bunches.
Whether this is a valid concern or not will reveal itself in time. The real question here is, where would be a good home for Sam in the NFL?
Before we go there, it should be pointed out that a few teams would be poor fits for Sam. The Arizona Cardinals reside in one of the least progressive states in terms of gay rights. The Minnesota Vikings are facing legal action after allegedly discriminating against former punter Chris Kluwe, and the Miami Dolphins lack the leadership and maturity to play host to the first openly gay pro football player.
Sam could wind up on a team like the New Orleans Saints, who can use all the help they can get in the pass-rush department. I know from personal experience that Rob Ryan is the type of coordinator who couldn’t care less about what Sam does in his personal life. Besides, he could fit in nicely with the defensive scheme, where he could rush off the edge in a two-point stance and not need to be very big to do so.
Ryan Riddle is a former NFL player and writes for Bleacher Report.
Follow him on Twitter @ryan_riddle