The St. Louis Rams drafted Missouri defensive end Michael Sam in the seventh round of the 2014 NFL Draft. Sam's been clear that he wants to be regarded as a football player, and he'll get a chance to do that with a team that's built one of the toughest defenses in the NFL.
You have to applaud the Rams for this move, but knowing Jeff Fisher and the staff here, they're all about Sam as a football player.
St. Louis is a relatively quiet media market, tucked away from the national spotlight that can sometimes turn into a circus. They're also a team well-equipped to deal with the media attention. I give them a hard time for their overly protective approach to who gets access and who doesn't, but that will at least keep the focus on football.
And congrats to Michael Sam. He's shattered another barrier in the sports world and the civil right movement as a whole. Now, let's stop worrying about and discriminating people based on their sexuality.
Sam was named the SEC Co-Defensive Player of the Year in 2013, and was named a First-Team All-SEC selection and was a Consensus All-American in 2013 on top of that. He's a playmaker at the defensive end position, with his best season coming in 2013, with 48 total tackles, 19.0 for loss and 11.5 sacks. He finished his college career with 111 tackles, 32.5 for loss, and 18.5 sacks.
Following the conclusion of his college football career, Sam publicly came out as gay. His selection makes him the first active openly gay NFL player. While in college, Sam's teammates at Missouri knew about this and were supportive, but it sounds like Sam always intended to come out prior to entering the NFL.
Whatever the case, Sam is being drafted for what he brings on the football field. By all accounts, that's a solid defensive end prospect with strong burst to pressure the quarterback.
40-yard dash: 4.79
Bench press: 17
Vertical jump: 25 1/2
Broad jump: 9'6
20-yard shuttle: 4.70
3-cone drill: 7.80
Unfortunately, Sam's combine performance wasn't all-that impressive. His 40-yard dash time was unremarkable for a pass-rusher, and it didn't help that he whiffed on multiple attempts before finally getting it right. Some have questioned whether or not Sam can be a pass-rusher in the NFL, or if he'd be better suited as a run-stuffing defensive end. He could certainly excel in the latter role, which might be the best fit for him at this point. Sam probably can't consistently beat NFL tackles to get to opposing quarterbacks.