INDIANAPOLIS • After being listed as a linebacker a month ago at the Senior Bowl, Michael Sam is back where he belongs. At least back where he thinks he belongs.
He’s listed as a defensive end at the NFL Scouting Combine, which is where the 2013 consensus all-American and SEC defensive player of the year played at Missouri.
At the Senior Bowl, Sam was used as an outside linebacker in a 4-3 front and looked awkward dropping in coverage and just working in space in general. Looks like that experiment has been dropped.
“I’m a pass rusher,” Sam said. “So if you put me in a situation to get the quarterback, I’m going to get the quarterback. This league is a passing league. So I’d like to believe myself as a good pass rusher.”
With that in mind, about the only way outside linebacker would work is as a rush ’backer in a 3-4 scheme. The general consensus in the league seems to be that Sam’s best chance to get a foothold in the NFL initially is as a pass-rushing specialist and on special teams.
“He’s much better going forward than he is backwards,” NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock said. “I don’t think he can play linebacker. ... I think he goes somewhere in the third to the fifth round.”
‘I didn’t know you were gay’
At the Senior Bowl, or a couple of weeks before he announced that he was gay, Sam said all the questions he got during team interviews dealt with football. But the fact that Sam is gay wasn’t a well-kept secret at the Senior Bowl among scouts and others.
“I’m not going to say who said it, but one of my friends at the Senior Bowl said, ‘Michael Sam, I didn’t know you were gay,’ ’’ Sam said with a laugh. “I was like, ‘I didn’t know either.’ ’’
Instances like that prompted Sam to make the announcement on his own terms Feb. 9. Since then, Sam said no NFL teams have asked questions related to his sexual orientation.