Cultural importance aside, history against Sam to make Rams rost - KMOV.com

Cultural importance aside, history against Sam to make Rams roster

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By KMOV Web Producer By KMOV Web Producer
INDIANAPOLIS, IN - FEBRUARY 22: Former Missouri defensive lineman Michael Sam speaks to the media during the 2014 NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium on February 22, 2014 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) By Joe Robbins INDIANAPOLIS, IN - FEBRUARY 22: Former Missouri defensive lineman Michael Sam speaks to the media during the 2014 NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium on February 22, 2014 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) By Joe Robbins
INDIANAPOLIS, IN - FEBRUARY 22: Former Missouri defensive lineman Michael Sam speaks to the media during the 2014 NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium on February 22, 2014 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) By Joe Robbins INDIANAPOLIS, IN - FEBRUARY 22: Former Missouri defensive lineman Michael Sam speaks to the media during the 2014 NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium on February 22, 2014 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) By Joe Robbins
INDIANAPOLIS, IN - FEBRUARY 24: Former Missouri defensive lineman Michael Sam takes part in position drills during the 2014 NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium on February 24, 2014 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) By Joe Robbins INDIANAPOLIS, IN - FEBRUARY 24: Former Missouri defensive lineman Michael Sam takes part in position drills during the 2014 NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium on February 24, 2014 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) By Joe Robbins

(FootballSTL) -- The attention Michael Sam is getting is, well, understandable.  He’s a modern day Jackie Robinson who is taking this country into a new era where athletes can feel comfortable being who they are regardless of what others think.

In the end, as we all know, the attention regarding Sam will die down and football will take over.  Because isn’t that what this is all about?  Can he play football?

And, indeed, Michael Sam can play football.  Just look at his credentials.  He’s the reigning co-defensive player of the year in the SEC.  He had 11.5 sacks last season for the Missouri Tigers.  He was the heartbeat on that Mizzou defense.

There is an issue of size, unfortunately.  Most defensive ends in the NFL are around 280-285 pounds.  Sam weighs in at around 260.  He doesn’t play with the leverage and have enough power to consistently stop the run in a base 4-3 defense. 

At the combine and at the Senior Bowl he was tried out as a linebacker to see how he would possibly fit as an OLB in a 3-4 defense.  That didn’t go very well to say the least.

Recent history is not on Sam's side either. Since 2007, the Rams have selected 11 players in the seventh round. Of those, only running back Daryl Richardson remains on the team’s roster.

Chris Ogbonnaya, who was drafted by the Rams in the seventh round of the 2009 NFL Draft, played in St. Louis for a couple seasons before being released. He played extensively for the Cleveland Browns last season.

George Selvie, drafted out of South Florida in 2010, was waived in 2011 and now plays for the Dallas Cowboys. Fellow 2010 draftee Josh Hull currently resides on the New England Patriots roster.

The other seven seventh-round picks since 2007 are out of the NFL.

On Saturday, GM Les Snead said Sam would be a “DPR” - as in designated pass rusher.  The Rams won’t ask him to do something they don’t feel he’s capable of doing.  They’ll put him in a role where they can maximize his strengths (getting after the quarterback) and minimize his weaknesses (stopping the run).  Sam will also have to be a beast on special teams in order to give himself the best possible chance of making this team.

Taking a look at the roster, however, you get a sense that this will not be easy for Sam.  The Rams already have three outstanding ends in Robert Quinn, Chris Long and William Hayes.  Eugene Sims has been very solid for the Rams as well.  Can they afford to keep a 5th defensive end?  Is Sam that valuable as a situational pass rusher to use a roster spot?

Or will he have to beat out Eugene Sims for a spot on the 53-man roster?

A lot remains to be seen over the next several months leading up to the start of the regular season.  And Michael Sam will absolutely have his work cut out for him if he’s going to be wearing a Rams jersey on game days in 2014.

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