KUSA - Some have called Michael Sam courageous. I call him talented.

The NFL draft prospect and former Missouri Tiger announced publicly Sunday that he is gay. Sam was named co-Defensive Player of the Year in the Southeastern Conference after leading the SEC in sacks (10.5) and tackles for loss (19).

He's projected by many to be a mid-round draft pick and - as people around the NFL have asserted including Broncos Vice President of Football Operation John Elway - executives will judge him based solely on his ability and perceived potential to be successful in the league. He should be higher on the board.

The last seven Defensive Players of the Year for the SEC have been selected to the Pro-Bowl a combined 11 times and have been named as first team All-Pro 8 times. It's no coincidence that one accomplishment leads to the other.

[READ: Elway applauds Michael Sam]

Support for Sam over the last several days has come in droves. From President Barack Obama and numerous other figures outside of sport to current NFL player have backed the linebacker's endeavors to become the first openly gay player in professional football.

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Of the top-50 leading tacklers in the league, more came from the SEC (12) than any other conference. Among those was Broncos linebacker Danny Trevathan who attended the University of Kentucky. He was also taken in the 6th round in the NFL Draft despite leading the toughest conference in America in tackles in both of his last two seasons in college.

Sam's success in the game may never be determined solely by his impact on the field, but it's shocking that his capability as a football player and his body of work is being overlooked.

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