It was expected for a while since Jason Collins first came out as the first openly gay player in major American professional sports history that someone was going to follow his footsteps in the NFL. Almost a year later we might (we should) have the answer to who that player is: Michael Sam.

A New York Times profile focused on the Missouri star defensive lineman revealed that he's expected to be the first openly gay player in the NFL. "I'm not afraid to tell the world who I am. I'm Michael Sam: I'm a college graduate. I'm African American, and I'm gay," he said to ESPN. "I'm comfortable in my skin."

While Collins' step was undeniably huge, what's interesting in this case is how Sam has the potential to be a difference maker when he's drafted. Sam is the SEC's Defensive Player of the Year. He's an expected mid-round pick, so if his draft stock decreases or, in the most absurd case, isn't drafted, it's time to raise some eyebrows.

RELATED: What Jason Collins' Announcement Does and Doesn't Mean for the NBA 

[via New York Times