Michael Sam does not have a clear position at the NFL level, according to NFL Media analyst Mike Mayock.
In echoing similar comments from fellow analyst Daniel Jeremiah, Mayock said he doesn't see Sam, who has become the draft's most talked-about mid-round projection since he announced he is gay last week, as an every-down player. But he nevertheless sees Sam being chosen between the third and fifth round in the May 8-10 draft.
"He is a tweener," Mayock said. "I think that's why people are having trouble with the evaluation. I saw him on the Missouri tape, then again at the Senior Bowl. What I saw was a guy that's a natural edge rush guy. He's much better going forward than he is backward. He's got a little explosion off the edge, but he doesn't have the length. So he's got linebacker size, but he's got the physical skill set of a defensive end. I think he's a tough fit."
Sam was the SEC's co-defensive player of the year after leading the conference in tackles for loss (19) and sacks (11.5). He helped lead Missouri to a 12-2 record and a surprising SEC East title in the program's second year in the league. But after measuring 6-foot-1 5/8 and 260 pounds at the Reese's Senior Bowl, he is undersized to play as a hand-on-the-ground defensive end at the pro level.
"What I see is a situational pass rusher," Mayock said. "Not an every-down player, but a situational pass rusher who also can be a core special teams player. I think he goes somewhere from the third to fifth round. I'm not sure. ... He's really kind of tight-hipped, and I don't think he can play linebacker."