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Greg Bedard on D&C: ‘I would be completely shocked if the Patriots took Michael Sam’

02.14.14 at 9:53 am ET
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Sports Illustrated’s Greg Bedard joined Dennis & Callahan to discuss his analytical piece on Michael Sam that indicates the Missouri star should be a late-round draft pick — if he’s drafted at all. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

Bedard watched tape from 12 Missouri games and came to the following conclusion:

Sam was a good player for one season in college. He was productive, so the accolades he received were earned. But being a good college player and becoming a good NFL player are two different things (see Tim Tebow). Sam did well for Missouri with a lot of talent around him. A majority of his production came in three games against inferior competition without a need to show much of a pass-rushing repertoire. He doesn’€™t show much of what the NFL looks for on special teams, and it’€™s difficult to project a position for him on the next level. For those reasons, Sam would project to be no better than a mid- to late-round pick. He could go undrafted. To my eyes Sam is decidedly average, with nothing exceptional about his game.

Bedard — who told D&C that he has gotten some negative feedback since the article went up, but less than he expected — explained that he had not formed any opinions about Sam before examining the video.

“I went into it, I had no preconceived notions about him,” Bedard said. “I figured, given his credentials, that I would be impressed at least with some aspect of his game. When you talk about watching college players and projecting them at the NFL level, you’re looking for two things, really, in my experience. You’re looking for things they do extraordinarily well, that you say, ‘OK, that’s a real strength and that can be used on the NFL level.’ Or you might find guys who maybe don’t wow you but really show the type of instincts, the kind of inherent ability to play football that it’s hard to measure but it will show up in the NFL game. And I just didn’t see enough to wow me, to impress me with Sam. I was a little bit surprised at that.

“That’s not to say he’s not a good football player on the college level, that he didn’t deserve the accolades. He produced his senior year. I think the production can be taken apart. I’m blown away that he was SEC Defensive Player of the Year over a guy like C.J. Mosley from Alabama, a terrific prospect. But yeah, I was surprised when I went through 12 games. He’s a good college football player, but I think he’s going to have a hard time being able to translate to the next level.”

Bedard noted that Sam’s high sack numbers largely came against inferior competition, and he did not prove he could succeed against NFL-caliber competition.

“I would say that he has above-average ability to get to the quarterback,” Bedard said. “Now, he doesn’t do it in a variety of ways like you need to on the NFL level to do that. And he doesn’t really show the athletic ability to be able to develop that in the NFL. I think when the NFL teams sit down and really debate him, that’s going to be the thing about Sam.”

Sam also could be hurt by the fact that he’s a 24-year-old in a draft that features a large number of underclassmen.

“When it comes down to it, if you’re picking in the fifth, sixth, seventh round and you’re looking at Michael Sam, at 24, who doesn’t have a position in the NFL, is going to be a little bit of a project, are you going to take him, or you are going to take a 20-year-old who can jump out of the building and you say, ‘All right, well, if we teach this kid we might have something.’ I think a lot of teams are going to take the younger developmental prospect,” Bedard said.

On the other side of the ledger, “From what I hear, his character and his leadership is very good. Some teams value that a lot,” Bedard said. “It will be interesting to see how teams ultimately come down on him.”

Bedard predicted the 6-foot-2 Sam would go in the sixth or seventh round, but he said New England is not a likely destination, despite the feeling that Bill Belichick‘s team would be able to handle the distractions that would come with having the league’s first openly gay player.

“I would be completely shocked if the Patriots took Michael Sam, because he is way too short for what they [do],” Bedard said. “I don’t know if they’ve ever taken a guy on the edge of the defense that short. In my memory, they have not. So, that would be a complete shock. They’re always looking for guys at least 6-3, preferably 6-4, 6-5, that can really do a lot of different things. That’s not Sam at all. I would be shocked if they took him.”

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