First things first, Michael Sam is not a first round talent. Period. So if he drops to the late second or early 3rd round it has NOTHING to do with his orientation. Now it would be a story if he was a first round talent and he dropped. Then everyone would have a right to be pissed off. This is NOT the case. I have taken the liberty of comparing Sam to other elite pass rushers from around the country. I started my search by looking at everyone's favorite stat: SACKS, of which Sam had 11.5 last year. On the NCAA stat site the players are ranked by sacks per game so I pulled all the players that had better sacks per game than Sam. From there I compared total sacks, total tackles for loss (TFL), how they ranked on their team for sacks and TFL as a %, and how many TFL per game they had. I also included if they had a team-mate that made the top 30 list for sacks per game. Here are the names I came up with:
|Jeremiah Attuochu||Georgia Tech|
|Demarcus Lawrence||Boise St.|
|Shaquil Barrett||Colorado St|
|Cedric Reed||Jeffcoat's Teammate|
|Lorenzo Mauldin||Smith's Teammate|
|Kony Ealy||Sam's Teammate|
|Cory James||Barrett's Teammate|
And here are the stats ranked by Sacks per game:
|Sacks||Team Sacks||% of team||TFL||Team TFL||% of team||Teammate||Level of Competition||Sacks per game||TFL per game|
|Marcus Smith||14.5||43||0.34||18.5||102||0.18||Lorenzo Mauldin||5th||1.12||1.4|
|Jackson Jeffcoat||13||39||0.33||19||89||0.21||Cedric Reed||3rd||1||1.5|
|Shaquil Barrett||12||32||0.38||20.5||82||0.25||Cory James||4th||0.86||1.5|
|Michael Sam||11.5||41||0.28||17.5||108||0.16||Kony Ealy||1st||0.82||1.4|
|Cedric Reed||10||39||0.26||16.5||89||0.19||Jackson Jeffcoat||3rd||0.77||1.3|
|Lorenzo Mauldin||9.5||43||0.22||13||102||0.13||Marcus Smith||5th||0.73||1|
|Kony Ealy||9.5||41||0.23||16||108||0.15||Michael Sam||1st||0.68||1.1|
|Cory James||8||32||0.25||13||82||0.16||Shaquil Barrett||4th||0.62||1|
I also included the level of competition, because a player going after AAC offenses doesn't face the same challenges as a player going against SEC offenses. When determining the level of competition I looked at 2 stats: How many teams did a conference put in the top 25 for total offense and for scoring offense. I added the 2 together and divided. Here's the breakdown:
Top 25 Offenses: Top 25 Scoring Offenses:
SEC - 5 SEC - 6
B10 - 3 Pac12 - 4
MW - 2 B12 - 3
B12 - 2 ACC - 2
Pac12 - 2 B10 - 2
ACC - 2 MW - 2
AAC - 1 AAC - 1
SEC - 5.5
Pac12 - 3
B12 - 2.5
B10 - 2.5
ACC - 2
MW - 2
AAC - 1
So what does all that mean? Well I took the stats of Sacks, % of Team's Sacks, TFL, % of Team's TFL, sacks per game, TFL per game and assigned them points from 1.5 down to .1 and I gave the conference ranks points from 1 to 0. Players also got .5 points for having a team-mate because they were not trying to do it alone, and got .75 points if they did not have a teammate listed, because these players were literally 1 man wrecking crews.
|Sacks||% Team Sacks||TFL||% Team TFL||Teammate||Conference Rank||Sacks per game||TFL per game|
You add that all together and you get these rankings:
Michael Sam is the 11th best by these rankings of these players. He does not even grade out better than DL's from Colorado State or Boise State. On a side note: Aaron Donald from Pitt is an absolute monster, go back and check the stats. Amazing. So in conclusion, being the 11th best DL does not translate into a high draft pick. At best he goes late second if ONLY these defensive players were in the draft. He is a talented player, but he was far from being cream of the crop, but with some coaching he could be awesome, but judging from the stats from last year, not so much. And my list does not even include names such as Clowney, Jernigan, Roby, Shazier, or other various Linebackers and Defensive Backs. So when you factor in ALL the defensive players that could be chosen Sam is falling even farther, probably into the late 3rd round at best.
Now let's get into the politics of his announcement and answer the question: "So what if he falls out of the 3rd or 4th round and into the 5th or 6th? THEN can we start saying it's because he is gay?"
The truthful answer to this is: MAYBE, but I don't think so and here's why:
1. Once a player falls into the fourth round or farther sometimes it's hard to say where he matches up. Things get messy later in the draft, chances are taken, players are reached for, etc etc, a lot can go crazy here and it's hard to say what happens from here on out. I will say Sam SHOULD go somewhere in the fourth, he does have talent, and could be a steal.
2. He may be the first publicly gay ACTIVE NFL player, but he is NOT the first gay player. There have been some that have come out AFTER they left the NFL. So there is a precedent for gay players in the NFL, whether it was public or not.
3. Teams may not want the media attention that comes with a mid-round pick. Because there will be media attention. And yes, he has the media attention because he is gay, but teams will not pass on him because he is gay, but because of the un-wanted distractions.
4. His college team has played with him for a year and accepted him, and those are kids.
Now, sadly, there may be some locker room tensions at first, because there are ignorant people everywhere, and some good-hearted people that may feel they don't know how to act. But if Sam is drafted onto a team with a solid locker-room then these issues should go away. And if he performs and helps a team win...well then it will be a non-issue even quicker.
This is not the equivalent of Jackie Robinson here. There have been gay players before, yes he will be the first active gay player and if he performs I don't see a huge revelation that "OH MY GOD! GAY PLAYERS CAN PLAY PRO BALL!" They already have. If he doesn't perform I don't see a huge revelation, "OH MY GOD! GAY PLAYERS CANNOT PLAY PRO BALL!" They already have.
I commend him for coming out, because nobody should be forced to hide who they are for any reason. He obviously has strength of character and is making a statement that he could be the first ACTIVE gay NFL player. It's never easy being the first of anything, but the road was already cut out for him, he is just laying the concrete. I wish him all the luck in the world and I hope he has a great NFL career, but that has nothing to do with his orientation. And as I have shown, his orientation should not have much of a bearing on where he gets drafted, don't let the media and people with agenda's cloud the main issue here: A mid-level talent has caused a media storm that the media will only make worse by trying to make issues out of issues that aren't there. It happens all the time. I hope I have pointed out the real facts and issues here to help you stay focused and enjoy football.