40 Yard Dash 4.91
Vert 25.5 Inches
Tape Watched South Carolina, Vanderbilt, Georgia
What Sam brings to the table is an amazing first step; his burst off the line is could be one of the best I have seen on tape. His burst is excellent for beating offensive tackles to the edge. Michael Sam has a driving motor that allows him to chase after the passer in almost all scenarios. Couple that with very high production at the collegiate level and you have a player that is very intriguing for GM’s by all accounts. Sam also has decent arm length which as a DE, is one of the more pivotal physical traits you could have. When you watch Sam on tape, he sparkles in his pursuit of the QB and shows borderline elite closing speed.
However there are a lot of Red flags for Michael Sam. First off his very poor combine showing; what we see on tape looks totally different than what we saw at the combine. 4.91 yard 40 and a 10 yard of split of 1.72 is not impressive. Ideally you would want a 1.65 10 yard split from most DE’s/OLBs. Sam also displayed a paltry vertical jump of 25.5 inches, which is lacking to say the least. Those numbers make Sam seem like a marginal athlete. However, when I watched tape of him, I came a way with a bad taste in my mouth. Sam could use his hands a bit more when engaging blockers, he very much relies on his first step to get by and does not use his hand to fight off OL men blocks nor use them to create space with pass rush moves. Michael Sam did not show me a lot of pass rush moves not a lot of rips or swims or spins and seems stiff even when getting to the QB. In the Vanderbilt tape, I saw him literally turn his back to the OL /QB and kinda of flounder with his back turned. That will not be acceptable in the NFL, it won’t cut it. Due the lack of pass rush moves and hand usage he gets jammed at the point of attack a lot, not allowing him to penetrate downfield and thus he can be washed down out of running plays relatively easily. I also have to wonder if Michael Sam’s elite production was due to him or also due to having potential 1st round pick Kony Ealy and budding star Shane Ray ( you will all know his name soon) on the DL with him.
Sam seems to be the ultra-productive college player who may have trouble translating to the speed of the NFL. Due to his lack of size and strength to move OL off the LOS, I have trouble believing that he would be effective as a 43 DE but due to his marginal athletic ability, I know he will not be effective as a 34 LB. Before I watched tape of Sam, I had a general idea of his skills I had seen a few games here or there and had valued him as a mid 2nd round pick. However, after his combine performance and watching the tape more closely, I have trouble grading him any higher than a 5th round prospect. I like Sam’s burst off the line, motor and his production in college but I see too many red flags, ESPECIALLY his combine performance to value him highly. A very good pro day outing could help alleviate some of those fears
Projected Round – 5th – 6th
NFL Comp – Larry English