The media has given it their best hype to the Rams drafting Michael Sam in the 7th round of the 2014 NFL Draft. The "first openly gay player in the NFL" mantra has caused attention to be focused on Sam the" barrier breaker", and not the fact he's a pretty talented player, being named Co-Defensive Player of the Year in the SEC for 2013. I couldn't care less what anyone does in their private lives, and everyone has the right to live life as they want. But this is the NFL we're talking about here, so let's slide away from the side issue to what's important this time of year: Can Michael Sam make the St. Louis Rams roster?
A "tweener" at best as far as his size: 6'2"/262 lbs. A great first step got him a chance to make an NFL roster, but with the Rams stacked high at defensive end, I'm not sure if it will be enough? Seen by many - including myself - as a better fit in a 3-4 defensive scheme, he may be used in some of the exotic schemes new defensive coordinator Gregg Williams can come up with this year. But how do the Rams rationalize keeping so many defensive ends on the 53 man roster? What's more, the 17 reps he posted in the 225 lbs bench press at the NFL Combine speaks volumes as to just how prepared Sam could be by the time the season begins. While 2013 draft pick Barrett Jones has spent the last year gaining strength, it's hard to see why the Rams would keep another developmental player around for a position teaming with other choices.
If anything, Michael Sam could be an asset on special teams, especially if Ray Ray Armstrong transitions more to a rotational role at outside linebacker. Still, it seems like a long shot Sam will make the opening day roster for the Rams. Instead, I think he'll be cut and snapped up by teams like the Ravens, 49ers or Steelers, who are thin at pass rushing OLB. Make no mistake, the opportunity the Rams have given Michael Sam to get into training camp, and learn NFL basics, is going to be priceless as he moves forward in his career.