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John Mara Says Announcement by Michael Sam Will “Not Affect” His Position on Giants’ Draft Board

February 10th, 2014 at 3:00 PM
By Anthony Raia

Last night, Missouri defensive end and NFL Draft prospect, Michael Sam, broke a barrier by declaring that he is an openly gay man with dreams of playing in the NFL.

mmtzjr69out / Foter / CC BY

Sam would be the first openly gay player to play in the NFL, which, despite all the praise from NFL circles, has made this an uneasy situation behind the scenes. Numerous anonymous NFL Scouts have been quoted as saying that Sam's draft stock will fall due the announcement. CBS has Sam as the ninth ranked defensive end and 90th player overall before the announcement. Overnight they decided to drop him to the 14th ranked defensive end and 160th player overall.

70 players did not magically become better than Sam overnight.

After a junior season where Sam totaled only three and a half sacks, he announced that he was gay to his teammates during a session where players talked about their background. Sam would go on to become a force on the Missouri defense, teaming up with Kony Ealy to form one of the best defensive lines in the country. He totaled eleven sacks during his senior campaign, en route to becoming SEC Defensive Player of the Year. But a knock on Sam is that he is too undersized to play defensive end in the NFL, and has very little experience at linebacker. However, that did not seem to hurt his draft stock before Sunday, as he was slated to be taken somewhere in the third or fourth round.

While he may not bring excellent size at 6'2", 256 lbs., neither did Robert Mathis, who has gone on to become a six-time Pro Bowler and one of the best pass rushers in the NFL. Much like Mathis, Sam brings excellent speed and athleticism to the defensive side of the football. A player as quick and explosive out of his stance as Sam, will be trouble for most offensive tackles despite the fact that he is undersized. He is excellent at using his hands to rip past blockers, which  when coupled with his speed and athleticism allows him to make up for his lack of height. Sam also knows how to use his height to his advantage, out leveraging blockers at the point of attack.

New York Giants fans have experience with similar players, as former New York Giant and current Atlanta Falcons defensive end Osi Umenyiora carries a similar build (6'3", 256 pounds)  and skill set as Sam. 

Like every NFL Draft prospect Sam has his flaws, and those should be the only things that affect his draft stock. His lack of size will hurt him when playing the run at the NFL level. He will likely have trouble shedding blocks when the bigger and stronger offensive tackles are able to square him up, but their will be times where he will get out of his stance too quick for a tackle to get more than a hand on him.

At the end of the day, Michael Sam can play football and plays it very well. There is always the chance Sam never makes a real impact in the NFL, like a good portion of drafted players. If that happens it will be because of football, and not because of his sexual orientation.

But if he does make an impact, Giants co-owner John Mara said on Monday, it will be because he's a damn good football player and that's all that matters.

"Our sport, our game, is the ultimate meritocracy. You earn your way with your ability," Mara said. "As Patrick Burke and Wade Davis constantly remind all of us, regardless of who you are, what your background is and what your personal or sexual orientation is, if you can play, you can play. Michael's announcement will not affect his position on our draft board."


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Tags: Football, Michael Sam, New York, New York Giants, NFL, NFL Draft, Osi Umenyiora, Robert Mathis

30 Responses to “John Mara Says Announcement by Michael Sam Will “Not Affect” His Position on Giants’ Draft Board”

  1.  jerseyrich says:

    Im reading that this guy is a 3rd-5th round pick….where do you see him going (without the announcement stuff coming into play)?

  2.  jerseyrich says:

    Also, as far as DE’s are concerned, its looking like he’s basically going to be your classic 3-4 OLB. We have a guy already who is an undersized pass rushing DE in Moore….do we need another one?

    • Anthony Raiaaxr29 says:

      I disagree to an extent. He is a project as a LB, but can step in a be a pass rush specialist right away in a 4-3. While he might not be as effective he could be very similar to Mathis and Osi.

    • Anthony Raiaaxr29 says:

      Plus, Moore is 6’5″ and just needs to hit the weights

  3.  jerseyrich says:

    Wow….I didn’t realize moore was that tall. yeah, he definatley needs to start loading up on the protein then.
    I guess Sam is the sort of guy who you can hit a HR with if you’re lucky but if not you have a guy who is going to be demolished by NFL tackles.

    • Anthony Raiaaxr29 says:

      If he’s lined up with a good defensive end on the other like he was with Ealy at Missouri, he’ll be a successful pass rusher. He’s so quick and athletic guys will have a hard time squaring him up especially when he’s able to pin his ears back and rush the passer without worrying about the run. He’s a very good fit on an already good line, i.e. Seattle or even the Giants if JPP is JPP.

  4.  BigBlueGiant says:

    don’t be fooled this kid can play ball. and flat out get to the QB. And is a heck of a ball player.

    I can see him as either a DE or OLB.

    Problem is, we seem to have trouble converting smaller DE’s to LB’s (Sintim, Tracy, Kiwi….) i’m not sure that Sam will fit on this team.

    But this kid has the heart of a lion and is going to make it in this league. I actually wouldn’t mind taking a shot at him.

    He has a 3rd-high 4th ground grade as of right now, but can go higher combine, pro day pending.

  5.  Eric S says:

    I know it’s been popular around here lately to bash JR, but until he gets to hire his own coach I’m giving him a pass. And for those who wish to credit Accorsi for our 2 SB teams just remember who his number one talent evaluator was. JR was his protege and the guy he was grooming to take over.

    I think Reese has a real good eye for talent. I think Coughlin and his staff do a relatively poor job of developing that talent. We’ve had a horrible run of injuries since Coughlin took over which makes you wonder about the training staff and their philosophies. Particularly in light of new methods being used in the college ranks and implemented in the NFL by guys like Kelly and Harbaugh.

    I mean Jernigan didn’t just suddenly become explosive and elusive. He always had natural ability. Unfortunately he didn’t have “vet savvy” nor a masters in Gilbridian philosophy. I understand there’s a learning curve and some guys are more polished than others but come on. I think a staff that recognizes the reality of today’s NFL ( the need for young guys to contribute right away) do a better job of getting these guys game reps with what they already do well whilst they also grow within their craft. Coughlin has been way to old school when it comes to this. Generally it takes injuries for the young bucks to play. 2007 is a prime example of this. Justin Pugh was riding pine and would have for most of the season but injuries forced cough line hand and Pugh was easily our best lineman.

    •  jerseyrich says:

      Reese may get a pass for some things, but no way is he not responsible for a competent training staff not having been brought in by now. Injuries have plagued this team for years, like you said… the heck have we not changed our training philosophy yet and how is Reese not responsible?

      If im not mistaken, the eagles had the same 53 guys on their roster at the end of the year as they did when the season started, and yet we seemingly had two new guys hitting injured reserve every week. That isn’t just luck…that’s a matter of the eagles knowing what they are doing and us not having a clue….and that falls on the GM.

      •  Eric S says:

        I’m not saying Reese is entirely without fault. I’m pretty sure that Coughlin brought in this training staff no? Much like Kelly brought in his crew with new philosophies in tow?

        •  jerseyrich says:

          Im sure TC did….im just saying that its long past due for our training methods to have been addressed and I believe that falls on the GM. Our injury problems are one of the big reasons why we have had as many problems as we’ve had.

          •  Kettles78 says:

            What are the training methods? How many more pulls, tweaks, strains do we have than other teams not called the Eagles this year?

    •  Dirt says:

      I brought up Accorsi a few days ago, so let me chime in:

      I agree that Coughlin has more blame in the mess. But Reese has blame too.

      Regardless of whether he was Accorsi’s top talent evaluator, Accorsi contructed the team. He pulled the trigger on each move. Reese has graduated from “this guy is good or bad” to “this guy fits into a championship team”, and the jury is still out on whether he’s good in this grade.

      For sure, the information jerseyrich shared earlier today about the contractual situation on the offensive line is patently absurd.

  6.  jb322 says:

    As I look foward to the draft and look at who may be available to us, I keep coming back to one guy, Darqueze Dennard. Does anybody know anything about this kid? I know we need lineman, but cornerback is just as big if not a bigger need. Outside of Prince, its all journeyman and old guys.

    •  JBeast3 says:

      Love Dennard he has been my choice if Clowney and the 2 OTs are gone by 12. He is very physical and much better at man coverage. I can’t wait for the combine to see were guys end up.

  7.  JBeast3 says:

    Gabe Carimi was cut from the Bucs, wouldn’t mind to pick him up for a short cheap prove it deal

  8.  JBeast3 says:

    i played the draft game at first pick came away with the following:

    Your Picks:
    Round 1 Pick 12: Darqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan State (B+)
    Round 2 Pick 11: Cyril Richardson, OG, Baylor (A-)
    Round 3 Pick 10: Telvin Smith, OLB, Florida State (A)
    Round 4 Pick 13: Bryan Stork, C, Florida State (A)
    Round 5 Pick 12: Rob Blanchflower, TE, Massachusetts (A-)
    Round 6 Pick 11: James White, RB, Wisconsin (A)
    Round 7 Pick 10: Brent Urban, DE, Virginia (A)

    would love this draft

  9.  Dirt says:

    OK, no one else is commenting on it, so I will.

    If CBS’s rankings aren’t a mock draft (ie what team is going to take what player) and are simply a ranking from best to worst, then they are a fvking embarassment.

    You can acknowledge there are a bunch of uncomfortable executives and predict that a guy could slide because of his announcement. That’s an observation. But to simply rank a guy lower as a result? That’s an opinion. That’s some low class sh|t.

    •  Kettles78 says:

      His preference should have no impact on performance. Which means his preference should have no impact on ranking.

      The media coverage however may scare some teams away. Some teams do not like the attention and circus.

      But if he can help a team win and they see his value he will be drafted. He should be drafted where his value is not higher or lower based off of his preference

    •  jfunk says:

      The person responsible for the rankings said as much:

      “But by coming out, Sam turned a very bright spotlight on himself.

      And the reality is teams would rather the bright lights shine on their superstars on game day. Any club drafting Sam would add distractions for players, and teams normally work to avoid any distraction.

      As the media glare intensifies at the Scouting Combine and the weeks leading up to the draft, Sam will be viewed as more and more of a distraction. That fact — not Sam’s homosexuality — is what will cause him to slip into the late rounds or perhaps even entirely out of the draft.”

      And he’s right. There is zero chance this doesn’t drop him in the draft and it’s not because every single exec in the NFL is homophobic. It’s because some of them are. The reality is that even teams that are interested in him will KNOW that a number of teams will avoid him entirely…meaning they will think they can get him later at a “value”. As the 4th and 5th round come, the conversation in draft rooms that have him on the board will be “but we can probably still get him next round…”.

      It will be very interesting to see where he goes.

  10.  GOAT56 says:

    I share many of the same thoughts as BBG on Sam. I happened to catch Missiouri a lot this year and they have a few players who could be fits for us. Sam I didn’t see as a fit because I thought he projected to a 2nd or 3rd round type pick. But if this kid is there in the 4th and especially the 5th he’s a good fit. I saw some comparisons to Sintim and Tracy but I think he’s different. Sintim was a college 3-4 OLB who we tried to convert to a 4-3 OLB. Tracy was a small 4-3 DE who we tried to convert to OLB before realizing he was just an undersized DE. Sam just seems to be an undersized 4-3 DE and many of those have been successful including a similarly sized player in Osi.

    All that said I still think his DE counterpart Ealy could get a strong look from us at #12. With his SEC production, classic size and possibly testing really wellI thinkhis stock will rise into our range. If don’t re-sign Tuck we really to have a need at DE. And I think the lines will be heavily invested in. The simply key to improving our team is to get back to rushing their QB and protecting our QB.

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