Missouri Tigers product Michael Sam has always been expected to be picked on the third day of the draft, with most projections placing him in the fifth round. The NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported earlier today that the New England Patriots, New York Giants, Arizona Cardinals, and Baltimore Ravens have all shown interest in Sam, and the even split of 4-3 and 3-4 teams affirm Sam’s status as a classic “tweener” prospect who could struggle to find a legitimate position in the NFL; it’s a big reason why his draft stock is low despite some big-time production last season.
Now, Rapoport reports that Sam probably won’t meet the initial fifth-round projection given by most analysts, as the Mizzou DE/OLB prospect is “looking at” being selected in the sixth or seventh round “at best”. Rapoport adds that Sam could very well end up being a priority free agent this year, and the fact that the sixth round seems to be his ceiling doesn’t bode well.
Sam had a terrible combine, and that led to plenty of concerns that he would be too slow to play as a 3-4 OLB and too small to fit in as a 4-3 DE (poor run defense). At this stage, he looks like a niche player in the NFL as a sub-package guy in the 4-3 (that looks like his ideal fit to me) or a strong-side 3-4 OLB.