Within the past week, the biggest slash in the football world came from University of Missouri defensive end Michael Sam, when he admitted that he is gay. Fortunately, it appears that Sam has the support of many, as he looks to take his talents to the NFL.
Sam, the SEC Co-Defensive Player of the Year, finished the 2013 season with 10.5 sacks and 18 tackles for loss. The fact that Sam is labeled as one of the best defensive players in the nation’s toughest conference speaks volumes of what he can offer to an NFL team. Hopefully his decision to tell the world of his sexual preference doesn’t overshadow his skills as a football player.
As of right now, Sam is projected to be selected in the 2014 NFL Draft somewhere in the third or fourth round. Assuming that teams will look past this off-the-field news, Sam could be on the list of numerous general managers and head coaches, including the Chicago Bears.
To say that the Bears’ defense struggled this past season would be an understatement; they were 30th in overall defense and dead last in stopping the run and sacks. Due to some offseason moves, there has been speculation that Chicago will convert to a 3-4 defensive alignment for the 2014 campaign. If this is true, then there could be a strong possibility that Sam will be on the team’s radar this coming May.
At 6-foot-2, 260 pounds, Sam is considered undersized for an NFL defensive end and will more than likely be pursued by teams that play in a 3-4 scheme as an outside linebacker. In the event that the Bears do go to a 3-4, Sam will give them a much-needed pass rusher on the outside and could help 2012 first-round draft pick Shea McClellin, who is suspected to transition from defensive end to outside linebacker.
Chicago should direct their energy on improving their defense in this year’s draft, and if they do decide to play out of the 3-4, Sam could definitely be a good fit.
Clyde A. Speller is an NFL writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @ClydeASpeller.