Henry McKenna

Some Players Carry More Baggage Into The Draft Than Others

Created on Mar. 04, 2014 5:45 AM EST

Colt Lyerla and Michael Sam are two volatile draft picks that drew a considerable amount of attention at the combine, yet it’s odd mentioning them in the same sentence.

Lyerla, former Oregon tight end posted an impressive 40-yard dash and broad jump and begins to make up for leaving Oregon after being busted for possession of cocaine. Plenty of drama there – drama caused by Lyerla’s decision.

Newsflash: Michael Sam is gay. You already know that a million times over because the media hasn’t let an exhale go by without noting his bad breath. Plenty of drama there – drama caused only by Sam’s decisions to publicly come out. NFL GMs would have inevitably found out, Sam just decided to rip the Band-Aid off. It was unpreventable drama. Sam made a responsible decision to publicly state his sexuality for many reasons, one likely being that there would be no confusion in team interviews.

The events that have made Lyerla’s draft stock volatile are completely within his control. Sam’s drama is beyond his control – he did nothing wrong. Admittedly, drug addiction is a disease, and one could argue that it is out of Lyerla’s control. But to that I’d say, it’s a disease that Lyerla initiated and aggravated, which makes it entirely different than Sam’s announcing his homosexuality.

So fair or not, these two players are both volatile. Right or wrong, there’s no saying who GMs will select first. Their draft positions are absolute wild cards. Like Aaron Hernandez was, Lyerla is likely high on some team’s boards and absent from others.

Both players should be available when the Patriots pick in the third and perhaps fourth round. The team needs to add a tight end and defensive lineman. As the Patriots review these two players, it’s clear who they would take first: Michael Sam.

With Hernandezgate worsening, the Patriots don’t want someone who would immediately become Aaron 2.0. Now, a tight end with a drug history is the anti-Patriot. And even owner Robert Kraft said he admired Sam’s bravery. If they handled Tebow, they can handle Sam.

The Patriots have a habit of taking players with drama, both preventable and unpreventable. During the last five years, the Patriots have dabbled with preventable incidents. But Hernandez, Tebow, Albert Haynesworth and Chad Ochocinco didn't pan out. And then there’s Randy Moss, who did.

They have continued to take younger players in the draft that had issues like Alfonzo Dennard, He plummeted from a second-round value to where the Patriots took him in the seventh round. The guy has some kind of timing, getting arrested five days before the draft and 15 days after Hernandez was charged with murder.

So what are the odds the Patriots end up with Michael Sam or Colt Lyerla?

There’s zero chance Lyerla, the anti-Patriot, gets drafted by the Patriots. Sam, however, would be too good to pass up in the fourth round. It’s been said a million times, but he was the SEC Defensive Player of the Year. He has the second most valuable skill in the NFL: he can rush the passer.

Knowing how the Patriots evaluate – which differs greatly from the “experts” – they might even pull the trigger on Sam in the third round.

Not all teams are as welcoming as the Patriots and Lyerla could get selected before Sam. I repeat: a tight end with a history of cocaine abuse that hasn’t stepped on the field since October could get picked over a defensive end that totaled 11.5 sacks in the SEC.  

In what world does that make sense? Oh yeah, in the NFL.

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