Former Missouri defensive end Michael Sam previously said he only wanted to be judged by his athletic performance, not his sexual orientation.
If that is the case, Sam is not going to like the reviews of his NFL scouting combine performance.
Sam participated in several drills on Monday, and delivered a poor performance in four important activities. His lackluster output reinforced why many NFL draft analysts believe Sam will likely be a mid-to-late-round draft pick who will have to make an roster as a special teams player.
Here are some of Sam’s numbers compared to other defensive lineman on Monday afternoon:
40-yard dash: 4.91 seconds (tied for 18th)
Bench press (225 pounds): 17 reps (tied for 47th/second to last)
Vertical jump: 25.5 inches (tied for 39th)
Broad jump: 114 inches (tied for 14th)
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.
In addition, Sam appeared stiff during his on-the-field workouts. Sam appeared slow at times and lacked fluid movements. That lack of motion makes it tough for a defender to make adjustments after the snap.
To be fair, there have been plenty of players who have struggled at the combine, but had productive NFL careers. There have also been combine standouts that have flopped in the NFL. Running drills at the combine is not like playing in an NFL game, and professional scouts take performances like Sam’s with a grain of salt.
Ultimately, teams that are interested in Sam will study his college film to determine if he fits into their system. He was named co-defensive player of the year in the SEC last season, and there are plenty of college games for scouts to analyze. Sam’s draft status will be determined by that film, not his performance on Monday.
He would probably prefer it that way.
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