In the third round of the NFL draft, the Vikings took a defensive end out of Oregon State. The Vikings said of him, “He was the best player on our board at the time of the pick.” Best player at playing what — softball? No, college football, of course.
College football players are ranked and picked based on how they performed in college. Scott Cricton, of Oregon State, “started 36 of 38 games in three seasons and finished with 22.5 sacks, 51 tackles for a loss and a record 165 tackles.” His stock as a pro prospect was based on what he did in college.
This is how all the players are ranked and picked, except for Michael Sam. His great college career was thrown out the window. If other college players were picked high in the draft because of their stellar performances on the field, why not the same for Michael Sam?
Sam was not “too short” or “too slow” to be picked as the defensive player of the year in the SEC, the toughest conference in the nation, and also be picked as an All-American. How is he not one of the “best players on the board” if players are ranked, as they are, for what they did in college?
The SEC has over 500 defensive players. Each year each team carries at least 100 players. Sam was seen as the number-one defensive player among 500 other elite athletes in the toughest football conference in the nation, yet he just barely got drafted.
The Vikings not picking him makes little sense. Were they worried that picking him was a pro-gay statement? Out of 10 picks the Vikings took seven defensive players. With Michael Sam on board in the sixth round, the courageous Vikings took Virginia Tech cornerback Antone Exum, who had only four tackles his entire senior year (Sam had 115 sacks), while he recovered from a torn ACL injury.
They passed on the SEC defensive player of the year, who has two good knees, to take a guy who may have only one good knee. What else can you make of this than passing on him because his solid knees are gay knees?
They needed defensive players. Sam was one of the best in the nation. The Vikings took two linebackers and two defensive linemen. Michael Sam could have played both positions.
Only two picks after taking Exum, and still in the sixth round they took Kendall James from Maine, not even a BCS school. James was a second team All- American for FCS schools, and Sam is still on the board, a BCS All-American.
The Vikings need to put a sock in it when they constantly talk about taking the “best player on the board.” They took a defensive lineman and a linebacker, the position the experts say Sam would have to play in the NFL, in the seventh round, both picks before Sam was taken. Starting with Exum, the guy with the torn ACL, how are he and the last four picks better than Sam. No way.
Michael Sam had proven how good he was his senior year. The Vikings folded!
Frank Erickson lives in Minneapolis.