Photo of Phillip Thomas
Grade
74.1 ?
  • 4.65 SEC
    Top Performer
  • 14 REPS
    Top Performer
  • 35.0 INCH
    Top Performer
  • 122.0 INCH
    Top Performer
  • 6'0" Height
  • 30 5/8" Arm Length
  • 208LBS. Weight
  • 9 1/4" Hands

Overview

Based on his play as a junior, it looked as though Thomas was going to assert himself as one of the top safeties in the 2012 draft class. But a gruesome leg injury (broken left leg, dislocated ankle) suffered in a non-contact drill just three days before the 2011 season opener dashes those hopes. He appears to be in full strength for his second senior season, however, as the hard-hitting team captain with fair ball skills leads his defense in its first year in the Mountain West Conference.

A second-team all-state pick out of California, Thomas was a threat as both a defensive back and running back. His tenacious attitude made coaches place him on defense during his redshirt season, and earned him playing time in every game as a reserve in 2009 (30 tackles, 1.5 for loss, two interceptions). Thomas started 11 of 12 games played the following year, making 64 tackles, 3.5 for loss, forcing two fumbles, intercepting three throws and breaking up nine others.



Thomas returned from injury as good as new, leading the nation in interceptions with eight on the season, returning three for touchdowns. The senior also notched 84 total tackles, with 12 of them occuring behind the line of scrimmage, including four sacks. Add on another five pass breakups and four forced fumbles, and Thomas was a box score stuffer.

Analysis

Strengths

Athletic, physical defender. Strong tackler with good length and the attitude to throw down ballcarrier. Breaks down well when approaching ballcarriers in space, has quick feet and agility to make the stop. Quick enough to stay with tight ends and some receivers in coverage, can undercut to knock away or pick off late throws. Nice ball skills to extend away from his frame to make the moderate-to-difficult interception. Sticks his nose in against the run when making that read, fills a hole, flows through traffic to find the ball, or adds himself into piles with reckless abandon. Comes downhill from two-deep look with speed. Adept blitzer off the edge, makes ballcarrier pay in thebackfield if not accounted for.

Weaknesses

Missed 2011 season due to a leg injury. Not corner-like in his change of direction ability in man coverage against quicker receivers, though more than adequate for an NFL safety. Can get nosy on play action, getting sucked up or failing to drop deep enough when starting around the line. Loses battles against better receiver blocks in the run game. Needs to prove he has the strength to stop pro ballcarriers in their tracks and be an intimidator in the back half when receivers come over the middle.

NFL Comparison

Reggie Nelson

Bottom Line

A gruesome left leg injury forced Thomas to question his potential NFL future, but the senior was everywhere in 2012 and looked as good as new. He gets a bit tentative when closing on ball carriers, choosing not to meet them at the line of scrimmage unless lined up in the box, but Thomas thrives at going up and getting it in coverage. Reggie Nelson was mainly a center fielding safety while at Florida and during the early parts of his career, but transformed his game with solid coaching. Thomas may be able to do the same.
C
Grade Title
9.00-10 Once-in-lifetime player
8.00-8.99 Perennial All-Pro
7.50-7.99 Future All-Pro
7.00-7.49 Pro Bowl-caliber player
6.50-6.99 Chance to become Pro Bowl-caliber player
6.00-6.49 Should become instant starter
5.50-5.99 Chance to become NFL starter
5.20-5.49 NFL backup or special teams potential
5.01-5.19 Better-than-average chance to make NFL roster
5.00 50-50 Chance to make NFL roster
4.75-4.99 Should be in an NFL training camp
4.50-4.74 Chance to be in an NFL training camp
No Grade Likely needs time in developmental league.
NFL News
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