Over the course of the past two months, Dan Dahlke, one of lombardiave.com’s senior staffers as well as one of this website’s most knowledgeable about the NFL Draft, compiled an exhaustive list of Q&As with some of the most talked about prospects.
With the Draft set to begin at 7 p.m. CDT this Thursday, May 8, we decided to bring back a few of the Q&As … to offer you an opportunity to get to know some of these guys first-hand.
Today we start with one of the first to respond to our query of prospects – Michael Sam. You might remember that Sam raised a few eyebrows when he came out to the world, announcing that he was gay. That’s not the topic of our questions to him, as this Q&A was completed before he announced.
Since then, Sam’s draft prospectus has risen and fallen. He will most likely be a late round selection.
But we restart our Q&As with Sam and will continue with some of the more intriguing of the prospects right up to Thursday and the start of the draft.
NFL Draft: Q&A with Missouri Defensive End Michael Sam
With the 2014 NFL Draft right around the corner, we reached out to some of the players we believe the Green Bay Packers could target in May - and today we kick off the series with early round prospect Michael Sam.
In this Q&A, Sam talks about his game, what life is like during the draft process, and how he would feel about playing in Green Bay. In the coming weeks we will hear from more draft prospects as we release more player interviews leading up to the draft.
Sam is a Texas native that was a standout defensive end at the University of Missouri. He not only led the SEC in tackles for loss with 18 and sacks with 10.5 during the regular season, but he was also unanimously named a First-Team All-American for his impressive 2013 campaign.
Sam was also named the SEC Defensive Player of the Year in 2013, and at 6-foot-2 and 255 pounds he projects as either a 4-3 defensive end or 3-4 outside linebacker in the NFL.
To learn more about Sam we reached out to him, and he was gracious enough to take the time to answer our questions.
Q. With the college season over, do you have any specific things you plan on doing to prepare for the draft in May?
MS: Yes, Dan. I participated in the Senior Bowl and I’m also training for the NFL combine in February.
Q. You had a breakout senior season at Missouri, recording 11.5 sacks and 19 tackles for loss. You also earned the SEC Defensive Player of the Year award for the 2013 season. What does this award mean to you and how do you plan on transferring this recent success to the NFL?
MS: It is a great honor to be SEC Defensive player of the year. I owe this great honor to my teammates, coaches, and the Mizzou nation. My mindset is to do great things in my life and I am ever so determined to bring my high-energy personality and motor to the next level.
Q. What makes you special as a pass rusher?
MS: I have a high motor and great pass rush technique.
Q. Whenever I see you play you’re a guy that seems to give max effort every time you step on the field. What does it take both mentally and physically to play full throttle on every play like that?
MS: I believe that I have to do whatever it takes for my team to have success. I cannot waste a play without giving max effort. It could be a play where it can determine the game. I refuse to let someone out work me.
Q. Is there a part of your game you’d still like to work on improving before the upcoming draft?
MS: There is always improvement. I still need better technique and also work as an outside linebacker.
Q. Every team could use more pass rushers. What would it mean to you if the Packers selected you in the NFL draft? What kind of player and person would they be getting?
MS: If the Green Bay Packers were to draft me then they would see a former Tiger with a work ethic like no other. A man who is determined for greatness and who has a passion for the game.
Q. Green Bay plays a 3-4 defense. What are your thoughts on possibly playing upright as a 3-4 outside linebacker in the NFL? Would this be a tough transition from playing college defensive end?
MS: It would be a new transition, but I believe that I am more than capable of playing that position.
Q. I’ve heard some experts say you’ll be selected in the first round. Some say you’ll go in the second or third round. As a player, do you really pay attention to all this stuff? Does it matter to you when you’re selected?
MS: Coming from a small town of nearly 8,000 people (Hitchcock, Texas) and a school size of 300 students, just getting drafted is a blessing in and of itself.
Q. Who have been the most influential people in your life?
MS: To my mother who raised six others on her own, I love her. To my high school coaches and college coaches, academic coordinators, friends, and Ronnie and Candy Purl who are always there for me.
Q. Finally, when you’re away from football, what do you like to do in your free time?
MS: I love to hangout with my teammates. Sometimes we go hunting or fishing. I love to read and just enjoy life really.
Career college stats
• 2013 – 48 tackles, 19 TFL, 11.5 sacks, 5 QB hurries, 2 FF, a fumble return for TD
• 2012 – 22 tackles, 7 TFL, 4.5 sacks, 4 QB hurries, 2 FF, a fumble return for TD
• 2011 – 29 tackles, 3 TFL, 1.5 sacks, 4 QB hurries, an interception
• 2010 – 24 tackles, 7 TFL, 3.5 sacks, 2 QB hurries, 2 FF, an interception, and a blocked kick
Michael Sam Highlights
Michael Sam against Florida: 4 tackles, 3 sacks, 3 TFL, and a QB hurry
Michael Sam against South Carolina: 5 tackles, a sack, 3 TFL, and 2 QB hurries