Nate Silver Weighs In on the Odds Michael Sam Will Be Drafted into the NFL this Year

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Statistician Nate Silver has crunched the numbers whether Michael Sam will be among the 256 men chosen in this year’s NFL draft.

His prediction on the chances for the openly gay former Missouri defensive end? About 50-50.  

Writes Silver:

2_combine_samSam, the 2013 SEC Co-Defensive Player of the Year, is rated as a sixth-round pick on the Scouts Inc. draft board, which is available through ESPN Insider. That might seem to imply that he’s likely to be drafted, because the NFL draft has seven rounds.

But players projected to be chosen late in the draft are hard to differentiate from one another. You can think of NFL prospects as representing the tail end of a bell curve. At the extreme end of the tail are a small number of potential franchise talents, such as Andrew Luck and Bo Jackson. The curve gets denser and denser with players the farther down the draft board you go, however. Players who are projected as sixth-round picks often fall out of the draft entirely.

I looked at what happened to projected sixth-round picks since 2005, as according to the Scouts Inc. draft board. Specifically, I looked at defensive ends and outside linebackers, the two positions that Sam might play in the NFL. (That some scouts regard Sam as a “tweener” is one reason he may not be drafted highly.)

There were 67 such players between 2005 and 2013. Of those, 37 players — 55 percent — were not drafted. Twenty-four others were drafted between the fifth and seventh rounds, while six were chosen in the fourth round or higher. Only about 10 percent were chosen in the sixth round exactly.

All in all, Silver says that although Sam’s chances of being drafted are only about 50-50, Silver would still take his side of the bet.

A player only needs one team to draft him. A player like Sam who generates polarized opinions might have a better chance of being chosen in a late round by a team like the New England Patriots or the Seattle Seahawks than one who everyone agrees is mediocre.


  1. will says

    50-50 always sounds like a weasely prediction.

    I still love Nate, though. And mathematical statistics and probability theory.

  2. Troy says

    Would we get this overkill of coverage if Michael Sam were not gay? Sometimes one needs to really re-think the Jesus position we automatically put people in,..

  3. SpaceCadet says

    There is hardly been an “overkill of coverage” of Michael Sam. In fact I want to hear more. He has the potential to make history and he is a role model. I will be following closely his prospects for making it into the NFL and wish him luck.

  4. jjose712 says

    Troy: He could be the first openly gay NFL player and you thing this is an overkill coverage?

    And of course this site won’t be talking about him if he wasn’t come out, there would be no reason to talk about a supposely straight player to be drafted. Right now he is the only who doesn’t fit that cathegory. Of course he is not the only gay player in that draft, but he is the only openly one

  5. Jerry says


    And this site will probably STOP talking about him if he DOESN’T get drafted…

  6. Dave says

    Whether he’s picked or not, I think it’s safe to say that it’s entirely based on his strengths and weaknesses on the field, not the genetalia of the people he takes to bed.

    That in and of itself is a HUGE advancement.

  7. BrokebackBob says

    Nate has entered the fame bubble. Just look at that picture for God’s sake. Therefore I will take all his predictions with a huge grain of salt. Before, he did stats for the love of it, now he’s doing it for the media attention and maybe to get laid and so they are suspect.