Oakland Raiders adding Michael Sam makes sense for struggling team
By Chase Ruttig
Sep 30, 2014; Alameda, CA, USA; Oakland Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie during a press conference to introduce Tony Sparano (not pictured) as Raiders interim coach at the Raiders practice facility. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Opportunity in Oakland
In Oakland, Sam would have a good opportunity to learn from veteran players who could help his development while also joining into a young core that includes Sio Moore and Khalil Mack as outside pass rushers. While the Raiders have brought in veteran defensive ends in Justin Tuck and LaMarr Woodley who has converted from an outside linebacker position in Pittsburgh to become more of a tweener, general manager Reggie McKenzie will assuredly be looking for prospects to bring through the pipeline at the end position come the 2015 Draft which is where Sam’s presence could give him an opportunity to spend a late round pick on another position of need come this spring.
There is no denying that Sam needs time to develop into an NFL talent, mostly in the weight room and also on the practice field as he will need to hone his skills even more to make up for average explosiveness. There may be no better player to help show Sam the ropes than Tuck, a two time Super Bowl champion who learned the game from Michael Strahan before becoming an elite pass rusher himself. Throw in Woodley, who also has been a champion and the Raiders have players who can teach Sam how to become a defensive end that can make an impact at the NFL level to make the most of taking a chance on Sam.
Reggie McKenzie has already found the answer to his problems at outside linebacker in Sio Moore and Khalil Mack through the draft, but with just Shelby Harris in the Raiders system as a potential late rounder to build into an eventual player on the field the Raiders would be wise to seriously consider this when evaluating Sam’s pros and cons. After all Sam has had reps against the best college football players out there while Harris has sat out from a small school thanks to a team suspension. With players who could help coach him up and a chance to compete with the other players on the practice squad, Sam’s low risk, high reward outlook remains when you look at the Raiders roster at defensive end where the team is still searching for young prospects to mold.