Michael Sam: Studying the Game TapeWe’re learning about Michael Sam the man. But what about Michael Sam the player? We watched every snap he played in 12 games for Missouri last fall to get an unfiltered look at the 2014 draft prospect. Here's what we foundGreg A. Bedard
I knew very little about Michael Sam until Sunday night, when the draft-bound Missouri defensive end announced he is gay. (I don’t have time to watch much college football during the NFL season aside from a few big games here and there.) I read a few of the stories about his announcement, but that was the extent of my knowledge about Sam.
On Monday morning, my boss, Peter King, called with an edict: “Don’t talk to any scouts or general managers. Just find as much tape as you can on Michael Sam, watch it and write what you think.”
Several hours, 12 games and 922 Missouri defensive snaps later (I couldn’t get my hands on the Indiana and Kentucky games), I feel I have a firm grasp on the 6-1 ½, 260-pound Michael Sam, NFL draft prospect. Film doesn’t care whether you’re gay or straight, black or magenta: You are what you show on the field.
Here’s what I learned:He plays hard.
When Sam is on the field, he’s always engaged and plays to the whistle. Even though that aspect of his game isn’t extraordinary (other players have higher motors), it’s a solid NFL foundation. However, there is one important aspect to consider: Missouri plays with a strict defensive line rotation. Sam played 58 percent of the snaps in the 12 games I watched. That’s a bit of a double-edged sword, depending on your point of view. On one hand you could say that Sam could have put up even better stats than his 11.5 sacks and 7.5 additional tackles for a loss if the rotation weren’t so strict. On the other hand you could say, “Well, he should put up those kinds of stats and play to the whistle since he plays less than NFL starters. He received more than enough rest during a game.” I lean towards the latter because …Missouri’s defense has better players than Sam.
If Sam was a standout, you would see the Missouri coaches break from the rotation late in the game to get the best players on the field. That didn’t happen, and it stood out in the must-win finale against Texas A&M. On the Aggies’ final three possessions in a 21-21 game, Sam played five of nine snaps. It could be argued that Sam is the fourth-best pass rush prospect on the Tigers. Right end Kony Ealy, who could be a top-10 pick this year, drew much more attention from offenses and had to face the opponent’s best tackle, on the left side of the offensive line. Markus Golden, Sam’s backup on the left side, will be drafted higher than Sam when he enters the draft a year from now. Golden could be a star. He is more athletic and faster than Sam, and watching the Tigers play, I thought Golden was better. There could be other factors as to why he played behind Sam, including Sam’s leadership and smarts. Or perhaps the Missouri coaches didn’t want Golden, a junior-college transfer, to start, in order to increase his chances of staying another season. Sophomore Shane Ray is also more athletic than Sam, a quality valued on special teams at the next level. Same goes for senior end/outside linebacker Brayden Burnett.
In his final five games plus 40 snaps against Oklahoma State—the best competition Sam faced all season—he had no splash plays. The right tackles he faced in that stretch were more of what he will see in the pros.
much more at: http://mmqb.si.com/2014/02/13/michael-sam-film-study-nfl-draft/?eref=sihp