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Mayock: Michael Sam is 'explosive' but can't be a linebacker

Missouri defensive end Michael Sam's 40 time provided fodder for those who wonder what position he can play at the next level.

He posted an official time of 4.91 after running on Monday morning in Indianapolis.

Sam's unofficial times were 4.79 and 4.84 seconds, with his best 10-yard split a 1.72 clocking in his first attempt. Again, those were the unofficial times.

NFL Media draft analyst Mike Mayock said Sam -- who led the SEC with 11.5 sacks and 19 tackles for loss -- is "explosive off the edge." But Sam measured 6-foot-2 and 261 pounds at the NFL Scouting Combine weigh-in, and Mayock said that is " 'tweener size" -- too small to be an every-down end. But the problem is that he doesn't seem to have the necessary skill set to be a linebacker. "He lacks the ability to drop in coverage," Mayock said.

Mayock reiterated a point he made during the weekend: Sam is a "situational pass rusher and core special-teamer." Mayock said he thinks Sam will go in the fifth round, "plus or minus" a round.

NFL Network analyst Warren Sapp said that while Sam's 40 times were slower than he expected, "I love his tape."

Fellow analyst Willie McGinest agreed with Mayock that Sam's size and athleticism are issues: "You don't really know where to put him in the NFL."

NFL Media draft analysts Daniel Jeremiah and Charles Davis also see Sam as a situational pass rusher, with Davis noting that Sam's motor "gives him a chance to make it." NFL Network analyst Steve Mariucci agreed that Sam doesn't appear to be able to play outside linebacker and said Sam benefited from playing left end at Mizzou, which means he went against right tackles at the college level. Right tackles almost always are worse pass blockers than left tackles.

Mike Huguenin can be reached at mike.huguenin@nfl.com. You also can follow him on Twitter @MikeHuguenin.

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