The New England Patriots have made their second selection of the day and once more invested in an off-the-ball linebacker – arguably the team's biggest need entering the draft. But while the 143rd overall pick, Ja’Whaun Bentley, is more of a thumper against the running game, selection number 178 is better in coverage: Arizona State's Christian Sam.
At 6'1, 244 lbs he is a bit undersized for a linebacker in Bill Belichick's defense but comes with very solid moving abilities, vision and quickness which should help him cover tight ends and running backs down the field. Sam, who almost converted to defensive back before adding size to his frame, passed on his final year of eligibility to declare for the draft.
After a solid but unspectacular combine performance, when he ran a 4.73 40-yard dash, 7.03 3-cone and posted a 32-inch vertical jump as well as a 9-foot, 6-inches broad jump, Sam remained on the board until the Patriots scooped him up in round round six.
He will now compete with Marquis Flowers, Elandon Roberts and the aforementioned Bentley for one of the backup spots behind Dont'a Hightower and Kyle Van Noy. Considering his set of skills, Flowers will likely be his main competition for a spot on the Patriots' 53-man roster.
Sam, who visited with the Patriots before the draft, also should be able to immediately contribute on special teams.