- Calvin Watkins, ESPN Staff Writer
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The Cowboys had limited thoughts about drafting Michael Sam in May.
The team tried desperately to get a pass-rusher or immediate impact defensive player in the first round but the options were not there when it came time for the Cowboys to pick. So they selected guard/tackle Zack Martin from Notre Dame to protect quarterback Tony Romo.
After the draft, Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones described Sam as a player categorized somewhere between defensive end and outside linebacker. Jones said that was a dilemma for the team.
“It’s obvious that guy can be an outside linebacker and can go inside and put his hand down again," Jones said. "But he was that tweener, and we felt like we had gone up and drafted -- and paid a high price to go up and draft -- DeMarcus Lawrence because we felt like he was the closest thing to having a better chance of putting his hand down at that time.”
Jones said he wasn’t surprised Sam was drafted in the seventh round because he expected him to be selected much higher.
"I don’t know what’s going on in other draft rooms involving him; I don’t," Jones said. "All I know is we spent the same amount of time on him that you would normally spend as a valuable defensive player in the SEC, we really did. He just didn’t fit for us."
So the question is, what changed the team’s mind since that May weekend?
Well, it's actually pretty simple. Lawrence (broken foot) was placed on the reserve/injured returnable list, and Gardner is out for the season after shoulder surgery. And the team has no significant depth to aid the pass rush.
So now Jones and the Cowboys are hoping Sam will learn defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli’s system while on the team’s practice squad and develop into a pass-rusher who can help them in the future. But they won't be upset if his development happens sooner than expected.