In February, all the talk surrounding the NFL draft was not about defensive end Jadeveon Clowney or quarterbacks Johnny Manziel and Teddy Bridgewater. It was Michael Sam, a linebacker-defensive end from Missouri who publicly announced that he was gay.
“I understand how big this is,” Sam said. “It’s a big deal. No one has done this before. And it’s kind of a nervous process, but I know what I want to be … I want to be a football player in the NFL.”
But after a disappointing showing at the NFL combine, will he be?
Sam is listed at 6 feet 2 and 261 pounds, light for an NFL defensive end. He ran the 40-yard dash in 4.91 seconds, not the ideal speed for an outside linebacker. His other measurables – 17 reps of 225 pounds in the bench press, 25 1/2-inch vertical leap and 9 feet 6 inches in the broad jump – are cause for concern:
The lack of speed and upper body strength has to concern most NFL teams, but Sam’s absence of explosiveness in the vertical jump and broad jump is a bigger issue. NFL teams want their front seven players to have leg strength and the ability to attack an opponent. Sam’s lack of leg strength in those categories is a red flag.
A lack of speed and upper-body strength could be a big concern. Here are the draft results of prospects with similar 40-yard times and bench rep numbers.
|Round Drafted||40Yard time (secs)||Bench Press reps|
“He’s not a linebacker, and he’s really not a defensive end,” an NFC personnel director told the Journal Sentinel.
He may not even be drafted.
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