The Missouri linebacker has slipped into the background as the 2014 NFL Draft has gotten closer. According to Bob McGinn of the the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, that has everything to do with the reality that Sam is a marginal NFL prospect.
"The reason you don't hear much about Sam anymore a few days before the draft is this is the time for real players," McGinn wrote Sunday. "Based on discussions over the last month about Sam's capability as a player with about two dozen NFL executives in personnel, he's regarded almost as a non-entity."
Strong words from McGinn, who polled 21 scouts with national responsibilities. Three said Sam was a fifth-round talent. Three said sixth round. Three said seventh round, and five said they would sign him as a free agent. Seven scouts said they wouldn't sign him at all.
The issue for Sam comes down to size and speed. He's undersized (6-foot-2 and 262 pounds) for the defensive end/outside linebacker positions and not fast enough to excel in coverage. Sam struggled at the NFL Scouting Combine, though he did manage to improve on measurables at his pro day.
"He's not a linebacker, and he's really not a defensive end," an NFC personnel director said. "I'd certainly take him to camp. You've got to admire how hard he plays."
Added an AFC executive: "It's a tough fit when you're short and slow and a try-hard overachiever. That's the issue."
If Sam does come off the board, expect it to happen Saturday when rounds four through seven are selected. It sounds like a very real possibility we don't hear his name called at all.