Photo of Thomas DeCoud
Grade
?
  • 35.5 INCH
    Top Performer
  • 6.85 SEC
    Top Performer
  • 6'2" Height
  • 196LBS. Weight

Overview

Thomas DeCoud, an athletic pass defender with the quickness to play cornerback, is known for his skills on special teams.

With excellent leaping ability and long arms, he blocked six kicks during his first two seasons with the Bears. Despite his lean frame, he has also proven to be a solid tackler in the box, relishing his role of taking on ballcarriers on outside running plays.

His versatility was invaluable at Cal, where he played every position in the secondary. With his ball anticipation skills and acceleration to close on plays in front of him, DeCoud might have found a home at free safety, earning a full-time job for the first time in his collegiate career at that position as a senior. He is known around the Pac-10 Conference for his athleticism and intensity. "I've been hit by everybody on the team," Cal tailback Justin Forsett told the San Francisco Chronicle. "When Thomas hits you, it's not something you want to remember."

DeCoud was a standout football and basketball player at Pinole Valley High School. He earned first team All-Alameda Contra Costa Athletic League accolades during a brilliant senior season in which he recorded 80 tackles and two interceptions at cornerback, and caught 23 passes for 600 yards at wide receiver. As a junior, he was awarded All-ACCAL honors in both football and basketball.

The 175-pound freshman spent his first season at California playing cornerback on the scout team in 2003. He spent most of the 2004 campaign on the special-team coverage units, appearing in 10 games as a reserve cornerback, finishing with nine tackles (six solos) and a fumble recovery. He also led the Pac-10 Conference with three blocked kicks, despite playing early in the year with a right ankle sprain suffered in fall camp.

DeCoud shifted to free safety as a sophomore, playing in 11 games behind Harrison Smith. He continued to excel on special teams, again blocking three kicks. He also came up with 28 tackles (18 solos) with a stop for a loss, but was bothered early in the year by a hyper-extended right knee and a left thumb sprain that would require surgery during the 2005 season.

DeCoud took over free safety duties, starting the team's first four games of the 2006 season before missing the Oregon State and Oregon contests due to a right knee sprain in the Arizona State game. He returned to action as a reserve behind Bernard Hicks, making 45 tackles (20 solos) with a stop behind the line of scrimmage and three pass breakups, earning Cal's Most Improved Player honors.

As a senior, DeCoud was named the defensive captain, picking up Cal MVP and All-Pac 10 Conference honorable mention. He started the first 12 games, registering a career-high 116 tackles (71 solo) to lead the Bears' defense. He added a sack with three stops for losses, as he recovered a fumble and caused two others. He also had an interception and four pass deflections.

Analysis

Strengths

Positives: Has the thick frame you look for in a safety, but he shows lean muscle tone and an athletic build and, while he is high-cut, he has long limbs, using his reach effectively to block kicks...Very mature player whose intelligence and grasp of the playbook allow him to shift to any position in the secondary during game action (shifted to cornerback to handle a big receiver)...Hard worker and leader by example type...Has a smooth running stride and shows the body control and hand-eye coordination to track the ball in flight (needs to time his leaps better on jump balls)...Will not hesitate to sacrifice his body in attempts to fill and come up to support vs. the run...Is a good contact-seeker with the functional strength to drive the ballcarrier to the ground, when he takes good angles and wraps to secure (not effective when he takes a side or leads with his shoulder)...Has a good grasp of the playbook and does a good job of recognizing schemes and making the calls in the secondary...Quick to find the ball vs. plays in front of him, but will bite on play-action and get out of position when he is caught peeking into the backfield...Has good hand placement to press or mirror the receiver, as he keeps his feet well coming out of his backpedal (is high in his stance, but has the ability to recover)...Has enough flexibility to get more than a few snaps at cornerback, but could be more disciplined in transition...Takes good angles to close and handles the switch-off well, when he does not eyeball the quarterback for too long (when he plays with his head in the backfield he will get caught out of position), but he will generally read indicators well...Has the speed to make plays off the hash, but has just adequate range, and must take good angles to compensate in attempts to go downhill...Comes up fast from the secondary to fill gaps in run support, keeping his hands active and striking with force to defeat blocks...Has good leg drive to push the lead blocker back into rush lanes...Not a blow-up type of tackler, but he has enough explosion on contact to get the ballcarrier down...Has a good concept for taking angles and drives hard into the ballcarrier and slot receivers...Best when running the alley or making plays in space, as it is rare to see him miss when he gets into position to make the play...Face-up type of tackler who does a good job of attacking the runner's outside leg...Excellent special-teams coverage defender, as he has the size, speed and hitting skills to excel. Negatives: Is tough and durable, but minor injuries have set back his progress...Has very good range and closing speed vs. running plays, but he needs to make more plays on the ball in flight...Flashes good closing speed, but is not really a sudden mover...Plays much better vs. the run than he does in zone coverage, as he will often bite on play-action...Needs to sink his pads, as he is too tall in his backpedal to generate an explosive break...Has very good leaping ability to block kicks, but his timing appears off when trying to compete for jump balls...Can make plays in front of him, but does not consistently show the lateral range for long pursuit...Does not have natural hands, resulting in minimal pass breakups and interceptions during his career...Has good timed speed, but fails to close in a hurry and must develop a second gear to get back on the receiver when the opponent gets behind him (does not open his hips quick enough to recover when this happen)...High pad level lets the smaller slot receivers make plays underneath...Good collision tackler, but when he has to give a big chase, he will take a side or lead with his shoulder, which allows bigger backs to break arm tackles...Must bulk up to play at the next level (he dropped eight pounds from the end of the season before arriving at the Senior Bowl). Compares To: REGGIE NELSON-Jacksonville...Nelson is much quicker than DeCoud, but both have exceptional leaping ability and timing to block kicks. DeCoud flashes good closing speed and is aggressive in run support. He is not much of a playmaker, having deflected just seven passes and intercepted one in 45 games, but he is a solid contact hitter who rarely misses when he gets into position to make the tackle.
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.
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