If the Cowboys still ran a 3-4 defense, the answer might be more definitive. At 6-foot-2, 260 pounds, Sam, who revealed on Sunday that he is gay, is built more like an outside linebacker in a 3-4.
Now that the Cowboys run a 4-3, Sam might not fit as well as he might be too small to play defensive end.
Of the six defensive ends on the Cowboys’ roster at the end of the 2013 season, only DeMarcus Ware (258) and Martez Wilson (252) were lighter than Sam. At 6-1, Everette Brown was the shortest defensive end on the roster and he was a role player after signing with the Cowboys during the season.
Sam was named the SEC Defensive Player of the Year out of Missouri after leading the conference in sacks (10.5) and tackles for loss (18).
When he played outside linebacker at the Senior Bowl, teams were not blown away by his athleticism. Just as a comparison, Ware was able to answer the question during the 2005 Senior Bowl that he could make the move from 4-3 defensive end to 3-4 outside linebacker.
The Cowboys generated only 34 sacks in 2013, so finding pressure players is a must if they are to improve in 2014. Sam showed he can get after the quarterback at Missouri and he will get the chance to show if he can do it at the NFL level.
For the Cowboys, he might be more of a situational pass-rusher than an every-down player. If he’s not an every-down player, then he would figure to be a middle- to late-round pick.