Ten Thoughts on the NFL: Chicago Bears and beyond

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

The NFL Draft is over, and with a record number of viewers I think we can expect a May draft every year. Yay...

1) Michael Sam being drafted by a team in the NFL shouldn't be a story in 2014. His sexual preference shouldn't matter to anyone in 2014 either.

I understand why he's a story though. As the first openly homosexual player to be drafted to play into the NFL, Sam is taking a step that no one before him had the courage to do. Some may scoff at me writing the word "courage", but that's exactly what he has shown with his decision to come out.

There are still people in our society that look down on Sam because he's gay. What's just as sad, there are people that look down on him because of the color of his skin.

There is no place in the world for prejudice, bigotry or discrimination of any sort.

If you don't think theses things are still prevalent in our society, then just check out social media sites or the numerous unpoliced message boards, where people hide behind a keyboard and spew hatred every day.

Both sides to this story has its fair share of absurdity.

The outrage about Sam nearly going undrafted caused many of his supporters to cry homophobia. While some teams may have passed on him for reasons other than his between the lines accomplishments, he's not the first mid round prospect to fall in the draft. He's a tweener that had a poor athletic showing at the combine.

The Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year went undrafted, yet there was no outrage on day three of the draft over Jackson Jeffcoat's stock slipping. Jeffcoat is also a DE/OLB tweener, and he actually tested better than Sam at the combine.

Each of the 32 teams and their scouts rank players differently. Team needs, team depth, position depth in the next draft class, special teams experience and athleticism are just some of the things considered for those late round prospects.

If Sam has the talent to succeed he'll find a home in the NFL. But if not, his new coach Jeff Fisher, has no problem cutting him loose just like any other player on his roster.

"[W]e picked him within the process and we're going to reduce this roster within the process," Fisher said of Sam. "So I don't see that being an issue."

"[I]t's going to be very competitive for him, as it will be for some of the other guys, the later picks, because of the depth and the talent level at the position," Fisher said. "He's going to have to come in, and like the rest of his new teammates, these rookies, they're not in shape. Not in the condition our veterans are in. He's going to have to work to get in great shape and we'll blend him in the offseason program and we'll go."

For Michael Sam, Jackson Jeffcoat and the rest of the new rookies in the NFL, they now have their chance.

2) You gotta love the NFL Draft grades, with every team receiving a passing mark by just about every draftnik out there. And mostly A's and B's too!

I participate in a lot of of pointless exercises in analysis (mostly to drive discussion) but I'll never attempt to grade a draft class before the draft class has a few professional years under their belts. I can tell you whose draft looks good on paper, maybe give a thumbs up or down, but I won't assign a letter grade.

3) With that being said, here are a few draft classes that really stood out to me in a positive light. The St. Louis Rams, Minnesota Vikings, Green Bay Packers, San Francisco 49ers, Houston Texans and I may be biased, but I like what the Chicago Bears did too.

Which draft classes are you most anticipating big things from?

4) The Tampa Bay Buccaneers, led by their new head coach Lovie Smith, spent every draft pick on the offensive side of the ball.

Let that soak in for a second...

5) The Vince Young era in Cleveland officially ended today, but it essentially ended when they made Johnny Manziel the 22nd overall pick in the draft. And speaking of Manziel, you did hear about the homeless Browns fan that "convinced" Cleveland's owner to pick him didn't you.

"Jimmy Haslam, the owner of the team, I spent about 30 minutes with in his office today and we talked a lot about football. He said, 'You know what, I can go out to dinner anywhere in Tennessee and nobody bothers me.' That's his home state. But he said, 'Here in Cleveland, everywhere I go, people know me. I was out to dinner recently and a homeless person was out on the street, [he] looked up at me and said: Draft Manziel.' And that convinced him that the Cleveland Browns fans wanted Manziel."

The legend of Johnny Football continues to grow...

6) Sticking with the Browns, now we know why they were shopping wide receiver Josh Gordon last year. He just can't say no.

I really hope this thread doesn't turn into a pro/con marijuana debate, but this tweet was too spot on to pass up.

7) The Detroit Lions were taking a lot of flak for picking tight end Eric Ebron from North Carolina, but I think it's a great addition. He's another weapon that could take some of the pressure off Calvin Johnson, and he's the type of athlete that can be moved all over the field.

8) A record 98 underclassmen declared for the 2014 NFL Draft, and a record 36 of them didn't hear their name called during the draft. There's definitely room in the sports landscape for minor league football, and there just so happens to be one on the horizon.

I recently spoke with FXFL founder Brian Woods, and will have more info once the dust settles on our draft coverage.

9) One underclassman that was drafted was Chicago Bears 2nd round pick Ego Ferguson. How do you not root for a guy that turned pro to help out his mother who recently injured her back?

10) Of the undrafted free agents the Chicago Bears signed, I like the potential of Wisconsin offensive guard Ryan Groy. He's 6'5" 315 pounds, and holds the record for games played at Wisconsin with 54. He has starts at left tackle, left guard, center and fullback in his college career. He's the type of tough, work ethic guy that Bears o-line coach Aaron Kromer could do wonders with.

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