For the 2014 NFL Draft, there will be no player other than maybe Johnny Manziel that the general public are excited to monitor than Michael Sam, the ex-Missouri Tigers star defensive end and SEC Defensive Player of the Year who recently revealed that he is gay.
Sam is an intriguing prospect for a variety of reasons, his recent news certainly playing part in that, but on the field he has obviously been a force. He put together his best season ever as a senior with 19 tackles for loss and 11.5 sacks, and now he’s drawn some lofty comparisons from ESPN Draft guru Mel Kiper Jr.
In a piece on ESPN Insider, Kiper compared this young prospect to Elvis Dumervil and Robert Mathis, two pass rushers who went way later in the draft than they should have for varying reasons, but have put together great careers.
In fact, one could argue that since 2006, there haven’t been many more pass rushers in the league who are better than Dumervil and Mathis. Here’s what Kiper had to say:
“What he can do is pressure the QB, using good quickness to try to beat defenders off the edge (though he doesn’t bend terribly well to turn the corner) and a high motor to finish plays and come up with sacks or tackles for loss maybe some others wouldn’t get,” Kiper wrote. “He is not a refined pass-rusher at this point, but he’s a capable one with some upside.”
Kiper believes Sam will be drafted, and we do as well. This news shouldn’t prevent him from being drafted all together, but he may drop a bit because of it. That’s not necessarily right, but it may indeed be true.
I think Kiper’s projections here are a bit lofty. Sam has some intriguing upside as a prospect but I’m not sure if he is a Dumervil or Mathis, both guys who have been or at least contended for Defensive Player of the Year honors in the NFL.