I have seen a few mock drafts that show the Cowboys taking Michael Sam? My questions are: 1. Do you think his draft grade for the Cowboys changes at all because he came out? 2. Do you think he will be harder to release if you do draft him and he is not good enough to make the team?
David: Based on everything I've read about the news, it seems like most teams were already aware of this before Sam publicly announced it. With that in mind, I'd assume the Cowboys have already factored that into their equation. It's probably not fair – to NFL teams or Sam himself – but everything that happens to him from here on out will carry a larger weight than if he hadn't publicly come out (which, just for the record, I think it's fantastic that he did). All that said, talent is always going to be the great equalizer in the NFL. If you can play, you'll make the team regardless. If you can't, you won't.
Rowan: I haven't seen much of anything that had Sam going in the first few rounds, even before the announcement. I don't think his draft grade would go up, and for some teams I imagine it went down, but I have a feeling at least a few teams' boards won't change because of the announcement. I still expect him to be a mid-to-late-round pick. That's an interesting point about being harder to release, but I think talent will ultimately decide that. There are going to be players that are with Sam and there will be some against him, but his stay in the NFL will come down to whether or not he can play.
If the Cowboys were to land someone like Henry Melton in free agency for a modest price, how would that affect their draft strategy with the returning defensive linemen that were injured last year? [embedded_ad]
David: I think this is a really good point. There was a lot of speculation last year that defensive line was one of this team's big needs, but the Cowboys passed on upgrading it, largely because the coaching staff thought they had good enough talent for Rod Marinelli to work with. It probably depends on what happens with Anthony Spencer and Jason Hatcher, but the return of Tyrone Crawford and Ben Bass – along with what, if any free agents the team signs – may have a bigger impact than we think. I'd still guess there will be a defensive lineman or two in this draft class, though.
Rowan: I think they'd still need another young pass rusher. It would probably delay their need for an interior defensive lineman, but keep in mind Melton's another player coming off a major injury. They eventually need to get young talent on the defensive line, and even with Melton, the Cowboys could use another player off the edge.