Oakland Raiders: Michael Sam

Five more for Raiders to chew on

February, 25, 2014
A brief look at five more intriguing players who worked out at the NFL combine Monday in Indianapolis, and who could draw interest from the Oakland Raiders, who hold the No. 5 overall pick in the draft ...

DE Jadeveon Clowney (South Carolina)

The 6-foot-5, 266-pounder put on a show with an unofficial 40-yard dash time of 4.47 seconds that was later changed to an official 4.53 seconds. He also had a vertical jump or 37.5 inches and a broad jump of 10 feet, 4 inches. Clowney “only” 21 reps in the 225-pound bench press on Sunday. Athletically, he seems to be the top pick in the draft.

OLB Khalil Mack (Buffalo)

While the Raiders seem set at linebacker, Mack would only improve the unit as a pass rusher. At 6-2, 251 pounds, he is sleek and fast. He ran the 40 in 4.65 seconds, had a 40-inch vertical jump, a 10-8 broad jump and ran the 20-yard shuttle in 4.18 seconds.

OLB Anthony Barr (UCLA)

Did not blow anyone's doors off at the combine with a 4.66-seconds 40-time or his 34.5-inch vertical jump, but his 6.82 seconds in the three-cone drill was third best among linebackers. Like Mack, the 6-5, 255-pound Barr, who began his college career as a running back, would add a sorely-needed pass-rushing element from the outside.

DT Aaron Donald (Pittsburgh)

Not really considered an early first-round prospect, the 6-1, 285-pounder may have changed a few minds with his combine measurables. Donald had the best numbers for a defensive tackle in the 40-yard dash (4.68 seconds), bench press (35 reps) and three-cone drill (7.11 seconds).

DE Michael Sam (Missouri)

Sam did not flop, necesarrily, but his relatively slow 40 time (4.91 seconds), combined with a 25.5-inch vertical jump and a 9-6 broad jump just might cause the co-SEC defensive player of the year's stock to drop. The Raiders do like getting undervalued players, though, and he showed he can rush the passer in college football's most NFL-like conference.

Would Raiders draft Michael Sam?

February, 10, 2014
Does Missouri defensive end Michael Sam coming out as gay Sunday night on ESPN’s "Outside the Lines" affect the Oakland Raiders' thinking on the NFL draft prospect?

Doesn't sound like it, so long as Sam has the skill set to play in the NFL.

"The Oakland Raiders have long championed diversity and opportunity," Oakland general manager Reggie McKenzie said in a team-issued release Monday afternoon. "The organization will evaluate Michael Sam based purely on his ability as a football player."

Indeed, as an organization under the late Al Davis, the Raiders hired a Latino head coach in Tom Flores, who became the first minority head coach to win a Super Bowl as he won two, the first African-American head coach in modern NFL history in Art Shell, who was the league’s coach of the year in 1990, and the highest-ranking female executive in former CEO Amy Trask.

Sam, who was the SEC’s co-defensive player of the year with 11 sacks and 19 tackles for a loss, would seem to fill a need for the Raiders, who are in search of an edge rusher. Plus, defensive ends Lamarr Houston, Jason Hunter and Vance Walker are all free agents.

Still, Oakland already has a project in Jack Crawford and the 6-feet-2, 260-pound Sam might be a bit undersized for the Raiders’ needs in their 4-3 defensive alignment. If he is still around in the later rounds of the draft, perhaps the Raiders take a shot.

Raiders players have been silent on their Twitter feeds regarding Sam’s announcement but Pro Bowl fullback Marcel Reece took part in a public service announcement last summer regarding gay athletes.

The theme was "If you can play, you can play," and Reece joined other Bay Area sports personalities such as San Francisco 49ers tight end Vernon Davis, Oakland Athletics center fielder Coco Crisp, San Francisco Giants pitcher Barry Zito, Golden State Warriors guard/forward Klay Thompson, San Jose Sharks center Joe Thornton and San Jose Earthquakes striker Chris Wondolowski in the inclusivity-promoting PSA.