Former University of Missouri linebacker Michael Sam recently came out as being gay. He hasn’t entered the league yet, but when he is drafted this spring, he’ll be the first active NFL player to be openly gay. There are two big questions now: how will his new teammates accept him, and which team would be the best fit for him?
I can’t tell you how his new teammates would accept him. I have never been in an NFL locker room, so I won’t even begin to think I understand what the culture is like. I would hope that any locker room would accept him, but only the NFL players and coaches know that for sure.
What I do know is that Sam would be a great fit for the New England Patriots on the field. An athletic, active outside pass rushing defensive end/linebacker hybrid, he’s exactly the kind of defensive player the Patriots would love to bring aboard. Sam racked up 11.5 sacks and 48 tackles last season for the Tigers. He tends to get them in bunches too, with a trio of three-sack performances last year in the SEC.
The biggest question mark for Sam before his recent announcement was his lack of size. Listed at 6-foot-3 but only 255 pounds, some teams already didn’t think he was big enough for the defensive line and wasn’t quick enough to play linebacker. However, the Patriots have a history of taking players like him and getting the most out of the them. Many thought Jaime Collins was too much of a tweener last year, and New England was getting great play out of him by the end of the year.
Where Sam will get drafted will be a big story for the next few months as the draft approaches. Unfortunately, his lack of size and announcement about his sexual preference could end up dropping him a couple of rounds. Well, the Patriots are all about value when they draft, so they would be just the right team to grab him if he falls. They would be just the right team to get the most out of him on the field next fall.