With the NFL Draft coming up next week, I got to wondering about where Michael Sam will get drafted.  As you may recall, he is the first NFL Draft prospect to announce he is gay.  Michael Sam had a great Senior year in football, and won the title of the co-SEC Defensive player of the year.  So I did some quick checking, and came up with the list of where previous SEC Defensive players of the year were drafted:

  • 2013 Michael Sam Missouri ??
  • 2012 Jarvis Jones   Georgia  – Round 1, 17th overall
  • 2011 Morris Claiborne Louisiana State – Round 1,  6th overall
  • 2010 Patrick Peterson Louisiana State – Round 1, 5th overall
  • 2009 Rolando McClain Alabama – Round 1, 8th overall
  • 2008 Eric Berry Tennessee – Round 1, 5th overall
  • 2007 Glenn Dorsey Louisiana State – Round 1, 5th overall
  • 2006 Patrick Willis Mississippi – Round 1, 11th overall
  • 2005 Demeco Ryans Alabama – Round 2, 33rd overall
  • 2004 David Pollack Georgia – Round 1, 17th overall
  • 2003 Chad Lavalais Louisiana State – Round 5, 142nd overall

Most were drafted in round 1, with the notable exception of the 2003 winner who was drafted in round 5.  One projection I found have him going in round 5, as he is labeled a ‘tweener’ player that doesn’t quite fit into one position in the NFL which hurts his prospects.   However I did run across a quote in this article written in October 2013 (before Sam came out):

Also, his frame would allow him to gain more weight and become a Charles Johnson-type of player long term if he played in a 4-3. If the draft was held today, Sam could end up as a legitimate second- or third-round pick for a team that needs a legitimate pass-rusher.

This was also written prior to him winning a share of the SEC defensive player award, so its not like his performance dropped off after this article.   Other articles do suggest that Michael Sam had a bad combine and looked bad in pre-draft tryouts, but it seems odd that an SEC Defensive player of the year would drop so much in the draft.  This is also said to be a very deep draft of talented players.

So if Michael Sam is to be a litmus test for how ready the NFL is for an openly gay player – at what round in the draft do we decide that he is a victim of discrimination?  I am going to set that line at Round 4  given the factors outlined above.  If he is drafted after round 4, I have to believe some teams devalued him due to his announcement.   It should make for an interesting draft.

2 Comments on Michael Sam and the NFL

  1. Tony Vetro says:

    I think you got this one right on. It took the home town team to draft him in the last round. Considering all the news media surrounding the pick I would think the distraction was as much a factor as his coming out.
    It is interesting that his jersey was the second most popular jersey in sales right after the draft.

    I also saw this in an article from ESPN.
    Earlier this week, Sam signed his first endorsement deal, partnering with Visa. Although his marketability is likely to be tied heavily to making a team and playing well, he has received dozens of endorsement deal offers, which is unprecedented for an expected late-round pick.

    There is still the question of whether he will make the team but it seems like advertisers and at least part of the general public are more accepting than many of the owners and coaches but any FIRST is a usually the biggest step.

    • Dan says:

      I agree. I think St Louis’ defense will be one of the best this year – and I think Michael Sam will make the team. So I think he has a great chance to be a highly marketable player.

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