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.