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Scout's Eye: Grading Tape On Mizzou LB Michael Sam


Michael Sam - Missouri - 52 - 6-1 - 260 - 4.74

Games Studied: Oklahoma State, Auburn, Texas A&M, Georgia

Sam plays as a defensive end in their scheme and will usually line up on the left side. He worked as an outside linebacker at the Senior Bowl but played as an end during the game.

He shows some initial quickness off the snap and can be a tough guy to block on the move. That said, he doesn't have much change of direction and is more of a straight line rusher. He will use his hands as he closes down the line and plays with outstanding effort. Sam will try and spin to free himself off blocks and can win matchups with this first move. Often, he will slap hands down to rush and work around a low block and will use his arm over a move inside.

There are times where he will lose the ball on his rush. He had game saving sack in the Cotton Bowl that caused a fumble to seal game. He beat the offensive tackle to the outside, then sharpened the corner to get there. There were also times where he gave ground in the running game. Sam would get wide and does a much better job of playing assignment to find the ball on the read option. [embedded_ad]

He can retrace his steps and work back to the ball. He fought the fullback block with his hands and worked back to the play. He can play a low block and kept his balance, but didn't finish with a tackle.

He has trouble when he gets pinned inside and will miss tackles on the move. I have seen him get in position, then bounce off and can cause problems when he gets to the edge. If he doesn't, then he plays like another guy. He had a sack against Georgia on an inside charge – a nice, quick move that beat the offensive tackle. On the next play, he had a move around the edge and was able to knock the ball out of Aaron Murray's hand on the play.

He picked up a fumble and ran 20 yards for a touchdown against Georgia. He is one of those players that is not for everyone. If a 3-4 team would draft him, I believe he would be played as a strongside linebacker, but during the Senior Bowl, he didn't look comfortable at all.

He does have the ability to rush the passer, but he might not be an every down player so you may use him just on third downs. I did not see him slide inside as a nickel rusher, and he is more disruptive when he is on the move.

He will struggle when he gets hooked on blocks in the running game. His effort is outstanding, but he needs to win on first move which at times he has shown the ability to do.

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