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 Post subject: Earl Thomas, FS, Texas
PostPosted: Mon Apr 12, 2010 6:56 pm 
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EARL THOMAS
5-10/202
Texas Sophomore
40: 4.43

PROS: Has excellent speed and range to make plays all over the field. Has good ball skills and has the burst to make plays on the ball when he keeps things in front of him. Can read the quarterback and make the big play. Closes quickly on the ball and ballcarrier and can deliver a hit. Does a nice job cutting a runner's legs in the open field. Has good burst upfield and can make plays in the box, filling the hole. Has good hips and burst to match up in man coverage and can cover tight ends and slot receivers.
CONS: Is undersized and needs to do a better job wrapping up vs. the run. Not as good at the point of attack and doesn't always break down in space. Will take some poor angles to the ball and get caught up in traffic in the box. Relies a lot on his speed to cover up many of his mistakes.
OVERVIEW: Thomas is a fast, rangy playmaker that seems to be always poised to make a big play in a big game. He's undersized for a safety, but makes up for it with his speed, burst, and ball skills. Started both years at strong safety and combined for 149 tackles, 8 tackles for loss, 10 picks, 43 passes defended, and 5 forced fumbles. Had 8 picks this past year and 24 passes defended.
NFL FORECAST: Thomas reminds me a lot of Louis Delmas in terms of his ability to play the run. He's undersized and it'll show at times, and can have some issues at the point of attack because he doesn't always wrap up. But for the most part, his closing burst and hitting potential will mean he'll make most tackles. The difference between him and Delmas is that he is so much more polished in coverage and works very well in centerfield. He has the potential to be an elite safety because of that ability to make plays in coverage. His speed and range are outstanding and will allow him to make plays on a level with Ed Reed. He can play corner because he has the hips and burst to do so, but will be better in a scheme that likes to play a lot of press coverage and zone. And I don't think he'll make the immediate impact at corner like he would as a free safety for most teams. He can start right away in a league as a ball-hawking free safety. He'll make his share of mistakes, but you'll see him start to iron out the kinks by his second year.
ATL FORECAST: Thomas is an upgrade for the Falcons in the secondary at free safety. His ability to make plays in coverage is superior to that of DeCoud's and his teaming with Moore could potentially give the Falcons the rangiest pair of safeties in the league, and any concerns about their pass defense would probably evaporate. Thomas could also potential work as a slot corner, which would allow DeCoud to still get work, but if he was drafted purely to play cornerback, I wouldn't be as high on his chances there as other corners available later in the draft. He could work there, but probably only as a nickel guy the first few years in the league, and not sure he'll eventually develop into the caliber of starting corner that the Falcons need opposite Robinson. But one could potentially draw comparisons to Rashean Mathis, who succeeded under Smith in Jacksonville.
VALUE: As a safety, Thomas is a Top 15 talent that for a team looking for a ball-hawking free safety can take in the Top 10. As a corner, I think while he has potential, he's not as polished there so I would wait until the middle of the second round.

SKILLS
1-poor, 2-weak, 3-above average, 4-very good, 5-elite

SPEED: 5.0
TACKLING: 3.5
COVERAGE: 4.0
BALL SKILLS: 4.0
RANGE: 5.0

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 Post subject: Re: Earl Thomas, FS, Texas
PostPosted: Thu Apr 15, 2010 5:04 pm 
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Pros: Very fast, great quickness and burst to close. Great ball skills and reads plays very quickly, does a great job of reading the QB’s eyes and closing to make a play on the ball. Is a rare prospect in terms of coverage ability. Has great speed to close, but it is supplementary to his ability to read what the offense is doing and what the QB is looking at. Times his leaps well, packs a bit of a punch as a hitter and if he can’t make a play on the ball he will hit the receiver to try to jar the ball loose. When supporting the run up closer to the line of scrimmage he takes good angles, wraps up nicely and fills holes well because of his speed.

Cons: Undersized, could stand to get a little stronger. He is a rare talent in coverage, but at times will struggle versus the run. When the run gets further downfield he does not always take good angles, and when he does he does not regularly break down and make a form tackle. Usually he will try to go for a bigger hit or will try to make the tackle while standing up or while out of control. Regularly this will mean a missed or broken tackle, especially if he is trying to tackle a bigger, stronger player. I don’t think he is a good fit in man coverage at the next level because he tends to struggle there more than in zone, and he is best when he can roam in centerfield, read the QB’s eyes and make a play on the ball once he figures out where it is going. Putting him in man coverage would take him away from that.

Overall: I have been high on Earl Thomas for months, and I have him #11 overall on my Top 100 Prospect board, and for good reason. He is an elite safety, he is a good tackler and supports the run well near the line of scrimmage. He is also a fantastic FS prospect because of his combination of read and react ability, his speed and closing burst in coverage and his ball skills, as well as his ability to return the ball after making an interception. He has Pro Bowl and All-Pro potential at FS in the NFL, and I will be surprised if he doesn’t reach it. He is an elite safety prospect and is firmly at #2 behind Eric Berry on my Safety rankings, and has been for a long time.

Projection: Top 15: Anything outside of this and he is a great value. I think he could go as early as #10 to the Jaguars, but I don’t think he will slide past the Texans at #20 who need help very badly in the secondary. I think he would be a perfect fit in Houston, and he would be a great value for them also.

SKILLS
1-poor, 2-weak, 3-above average, 4-very good, 5-elite

SPEED: 4.5
TACKLING: 3.5
COVERAGE: 4.5
BALL SKILLS: 4.5
RANGE: 5.0

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