The New England Patriots didn’t seem overly concerned about “distractions” when they signed quarterback Tim Tebow last June.
Several anonymous NFL executives have said that the team that selects Missouri defensive end Michael Sam, the first openly gay NFL draft prospect, will need to be immune to the “distractions” that Sam will bring, including an increased media presence.
A former general manager told Sports Illustrated that the team that drafts Sam needs “a strong owner, savvy general manager and veteran coach.” That sounds a lot like the Patriots, who have owner Robert Kraft and general manager/head coach Bill Belichick.
An NFL scout told Bleacher Report’s Mike Freeman that the Patriots are among the five best locker room fits for Sam.
The Patriots make sense for Sam. They have a strong locker room that will be led by quarterback Tom Brady, guard Logan Mankins, defensive tackle Vince Wilfork and linebacker Jerod Mayo next season. The Patriots have been trained to answer tough questions without saying anything controversial.
That comes from Belichick, who likely would only be willing to talk about Sam’s ability as a football player if he does get drafted by the Patriots. Sam is projected as a third-to-fifth-round pick.
Sam has been critiqued as being undersized for his position. The Missouri product is 6-foot-2, 260 pounds, the same measurements as Patriots defensive end Rob Ninkovich. The Patriots could use some depth at pass rusher. They had Andre Carter, Michael Buchanan and Jake Bequette behind Ninkovich and Chandler Jones last season. Carter is a free agent, and Bequette was a healthy scratch in 11 games last season.