Sam Lands In A Great Spot With Jeff Fisher & St. Louis Rams

Sam Lands In A  Great Spot With Jeff Fisher & St. Louis Rams
Michael Sam, the SEC defensive player of the year, was drafted by the St. Louis Rams in the seventh round on Saturday.

The three-day marathon otherwise known as the NFL draft is finally over – Thank Goodness! – and the most notable event of Day 3 was the St. Louis Rams selecting Michael Sam in the seventh round (No. 249 overall).

Sam, a Missouri defensive end who was SEC defensive player of the year as a senior, is the first openly gay NFL prospect to participate in the draft process, and I’m sure they’ll be more than a few commentators who’ll speculate that the reason he lasted so long is because some teams were scared off by the attention he’ll command as a rookie.

There’s no way to disprove that theory, but I believe the real reason Sam was still available as the workers were preparing to break down the Radio City Music Hall draft set is because he’s a tweener – that is, a player who’s not quite big enough to play defensive end and not quite fast enough to play linebacker in the NFL.

That’s why Sam, before he announced he was gay, was projected to go somewhere between the fourth and seventh rounds. His draft position also was hampered by the fact that he didn’t perform well at the NFL combine or the Missouri pro day.

That’s the way the draft works. Teams rely heavily on what happens in the combine – too much in my opinion – and they are afraid of players who don’t have defined positions. That’s why I believe Sam lasted until the seventh round.

But things actually worked out well for him. St. Louis is the perfect place for him. He’s close to where he played in college and the Rams have a strong coach in Jeff Fisher who’s a defensive coach who will find a way to use Sam effectively as a pass rusher.

I also have no doubt Fisher will prevent the attention Sam will receive from becoming a circus.
“I don’t have any concern whatsoever,” the coach told the NFL Network shortly after the pick. “We drafted a good football player.”

I like the fact that Sam embraces his pioneer status, but Fisher had it right. Sam should be known first and foremost as a good football player making the transition from college to the NFL.

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Michael Sam celebrates being drafted by the St. Louis Rams in the seventh round on Saturday:

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    John Jackson

    I've been covering professional and major college sports for the better part of 25 years. I started at the Bergen Record in New Jersey in the late 1980s, made a brief 18-month stop at the Detroit News in the early 1990s and spent 17 years at the Chicago Sun-Times where I was the Bulls' beat writer for the second three-peat. I've been freelancing the last couple of years, working mostly for the Associated Press and MLB.com. Insight, commentary and entertaining writing are my strong suits and that's what this blog is all about.

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