2018 Raiders Draft Prospect Profile
Name: Christian Sam
School: Arizona State
Round Projection: 2-4
Despite his average frame for an ILB, Sam shows a willingness to deliver a hit. While he does not forget his responsibilities, Sam will seek contact. His 17 TFL bear witness to a player that wants to make plays. When he strikes, he uses decent wrap and drive. At the next level, he will need to drive through the ballcarrier, not just hit a target.
At 240 pounds, Sam wins versus bigger opponents. That is to say. He can use power when needed. For example, when he did blitz, he would catch linemen off-guard with a bull rush. Granted, he never drove anyone that far upfield, but tilts opponent just enough to disrupt passing lane.
Sam generates enough explosion to make sideline-to-sideline plays. Additionally, his burst allows him to destroy screens. While not his strength, Sam can also stay with backs on swing passes and give chase to tight ends over the middle.
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Sam shows good quickness in short areas. For example, when he rushes from the outside, Sam keeps his feet to defeat low blocks. In coverage, Sam breaks down suddenly to keep the play in front of him.
With proper coaching, Sam will learn better hand fighting technique to disengage quicker. Now, he tries to slip blocks by dipping his shoulder. If he learns to vary his approach, teams cannot gameplan how to attack him in the run game.
As mentioned, Sam runs well enough to maintain a short zone and patrol it effectively. If you are looking for an MLB to drop deep into coverage, Sam is not the one. The further away from that five to seven yard comfort zone, the more Sam appears uncomfortable.
With NaVorro Bowman entering his 30s, the Raiders need to begin planning for the future. In addition, Bowman could leave via free agency. Is Sam the answer, or a suitable replacement right now? Ideally, no. However, with apprenticeship under a veteran linebacker, Sam could develop into a solid starter. His penchant for downhill play could benefit Oakland as they enter the Paul Guenther scheme.