Manziel, Sam to draw spotlight at NFL combine

Published on NewsOK Modified: February 16, 2014 at 11:42 am •  Published: February 16, 2014
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INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Johnny Manziel and Michael Sam will be the headliners at the NFL's scouting combine.

Workouts for the league's pre-draft event begin Saturday.

The most important aspects of the combine are often the ones that get the least publicity — players measuring in, going through the medical checks and the team interviews that could put many questions to rest or raise an entirely new set of concerns. So with more than 300 NFL draft hopefuls attending the second biggest offseason event on the NFL calendar — and the only that draws team owners, team executives, league officials, coaches, agents and potential future stars to the same venue— this week will be far more than just a two-man show.

Here are five things to watch this week in Indianapolis.

JOHNNY BE GOOD: Manziel is a dynamic player who may have more on the line this week than anybody else in town. After two sensational years at Texas A&M, he's trying to position himself to be considered the first overall pick by the Houston Texans. While the 2012 Heisman Trophy winner has said he will not work out next weekend, scouts will be looking at Manziel's height and weight to determine if he can hold up against the NFL's bigger, faster, stronger defenders. Coaches and team executives also will be eager to see how he handles the private interviews — the one part of the combine outsiders never see — to determine whether he's the guy they want as the face of their franchise for the next decade.

MICHAEL SAM: Last week, Sam became the first NFL draft prospect to acknowledge he is gay. This week, he'll face a media circus in Indy. He also has some questions about his physical ability to answer. The SEC's defensive player of the year was listed last season at 6-foot-2, 255 pounds, meaning Sam must demonstrate he has the speed and the agility to change directions to make it in the NFL. The heavy shift to 3-4 defenses has put a premium on heavier defensive ends, forcing lighter players to make the move to linebacker. If Sam demonstrates he's quick enough to be a pass-rushing end in a 4-3 front or athletic enough to move to rush linebacker in a 3-4 front, his draft stock should improve.