LB Christian Sam, Arizona St.

6’2” – 244 lbs. – 4.75

Profile:

  • Played safety in high school. Rotated into the defense as a reserve in his first season with the Sun Devils, then put together a highly productive sophomore campaign over thirteen starts the following year. Sustained a season-ending foot injury in his first game of 2016, then came back and put together his best season in 2017, finishing with 127-9.5-3.0.

Positives:

  • Was highly productive over his two seasons in the starting lineup. Has adequate (if not quite desirable) size for a linebacker in either defensive front. There’s some natural power to his game. Likes to play downhill and thump between the tackles in the run game, but isn’t exclusively a “phone booth” type of player; can get outside the hashes a little bit as well. Made a lot of tackles in the backfield this past season. Has some pop as a hitter to help set the tone defensively. Pretty reliable tackler who has just average length but gets the most of it; has big hands, a strong grip, and does a good job of making stops in his area. Stayed on the field on passing downs at the college level. Does a good job of keeping the play in front of him in zone coverage. Looks smooth when shuffling. Can jam receivers at the line of scrimmage to disrupt route timing.

Negatives:

  • Not a particularly fast, quick, or explosive athlete. Can be fooled by window dressing and get caught out of position; instincts leave something to be desired. Overruns too many spots as a run defender; could play with more patience and discipline. Lets blockers into his pads and doesn’t disengage or drop his anchor effectively enough. Probably a two-down player at best. Quarterbacks were able to freeze him or pull him up with play fakes. Looks a little lumbering in his drops and size/athletic limitations may prevent him from matching up with anyone in man coverage at the next level. Season-ending foot injury will require further medical evaluation. Doesn’t appear to have the athleticism for special teams.

 Summary:

  • Seems like a little bit less than the sum of his parts; has a pretty thick build, adequate athleticism, and plenty of production as a tackler in a major conference, but no elements of his game really stand out. Doesn’t take on blocks or read keys as well as a two-down thumper should, and might be limited in coverage as well. More of a late-round possibility for those reasons.
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