Yesterday I wrote an article stating every team should want to draft Michael Sam. Everything I said yesterday still holds true, but the perfect team to draft Sam is my favorite team: the New England Patriots.
Sam is a former Missouri All-American and in recent interviews with ESPN’s “Outside the Lines” and the New York Times he revealed he is gay. While I adamantly believe a person’s sexual orientation should not be an issue, it most likely is in certain locker rooms throughout the NFL. I truly hope that one day as a society we move past focusing on a person’s sexual orientation. A person’s sexual orientation is not something that can be changed and people need to stop acting like it can and should be. The fact that a person is gay, bi or transgender does not define the type of person they are and it doesn’t have anything to do with how they perform at their job.
So why do I think Sam would be a great fit for the Patriots?
Patriots head coach Bill Belichick (possibly just completed his best season as a head coach) and owner Robert Kraft (has brought winning ways to New England) have released statements basically stating they evaluate all players based on talent and whether or not they can help the Patriots win, not a player’s sexual orientation. Michael will need to be drafted by a team that has an owner and head coach who feel this way. Kraft and Belichick will help to make Michael feel more comfortable while he acclimates to life in the NFL and focuses solely on being a football player. The Patriots organization will be focused on whether or not Sam can play, not that he’s gay, and that’s how it should be. Plus, is there a coach who cares less about what other people think than Belichick? If Belichick was allowed to draft a purple leprechaun that could help the Patriots win, he wouldn’t hesitate to do it.
The Patriots are fantastic at making sure rumors, stories, etc. are not distractions. Just look at how Belichick, Kraft and the Patriots handled Tim Tebow being brought into camp and the Aaron Hernandez issue. I still feel that the media circus around Sam will die down, but the Patriots can help that happen even faster and make sure it never becomes a distraction.
The NFL is a passing league, there’s no denying that, and the Patriots need an outside pass rusher. It’s no secret the Patriots’ pass rush was not great in 2013, and Sam could be a great addition. He led the SEC in sacks (11.5) and tackles for loss (19) and had 48 tackles. The Patriots need someone who can get after opposing QBs, and Sam could be that player.
It’s true Sam may be a little small to play on the defensive line (6-foot-3, 255-pounds) and some think he’s not quick enough to step into the role of linebacker, but I feel he could play either. Even if those people are correct about Sam’s size and speed, look at what the Patriots were able to do with Jaime Collins (6-foot-4, 250-pounds) last season. Collins was a big time contributor by the end of the season. If Sam is willing to work hard — and based on what we’ve seen so far it appears he will be — the Patriots and Belichick will get the best out of him.
Is there an NFL team that loves to find value in the draft more than the Patriots? No. The Patriots rarely trade up in the draft and instead look for value later in the draft. Sam is predicted as a mid-round pick, and if the Patriots are able to draft him in the third or fourth round, they just might find the value they love so much.