Has a very good combination of size, strength, speed, and quickness. Shows shiftiness and good cutting ability to make guys miss in the hole and juke defenders on the second level. Is willing to lower the shoulder and run over a linebacker or defensive back. Has good balance and footwork as a runner, able to pick up yards after contact. Has a good jump cut and able to change direction well. Does a nice job as a one-cut north-south runner. An effective receiver out of the backfield on screens and his running ability can make him dangerous in space. Showed some ability in blitz pickup and a capable blocker due to his size when he wants to be.
Needs to improve his ball security. Doesn't always carry the ball with three points and can lead to fumbles. Doesn't always run with authority when he's running downhill. Tends to be more of a finesse back looking to bounce outside. Looks to juke a bit too much. Doesn't always show great vision as a runner between the tackles. Isn't natural in the passing game, tending to body catch and will double catch balls with his hands looking to turn upfield before securing the ball. Not used very much in pass protection and doesn't give great effort there as a blocker.
Thomas has all the physical tools one looks for in a running back. He has the size and strength to be a feature back that can carry the ball 20-25 times. But he's also got the speed and quickness to hit the homerun and be a big play threat. The problem is he doesn't seem to do all of the little things that makes you think he'll live up to his potential. A lot of that probably has to due with his limited experience at the position. He is a former JUCO with one year of experience at the position, having played predominantly quarterback before arriving at Kansas State. There is a lot about his game that is reminiscent of Adrian Peterson, although he's probably not quite as explosive as Peterson. But like Peterson, ball security can be an issue. He needs work in the passing game. He won't ever be a great option as a receiver, but should be able to develop enough that he won't be a liability there. There is room to grow for Thomas in all aspects of his game, and if he can make that growth, he can be one of the top backs in the NFL. At this point, I would compare him in his playing style and potential to that of Fred Taylor.
WHAT I WANT TO SEE IN 2010:
I want to see some improvement in all aspects of his game. I want to see him run a little harder and be a bit more physical. At this point, his running style is more reminiscent of a 215-pound back than someone that is pushing 230. I want to see him be better in the passing game, particularly catching the football. If he improves as a blocker that will be a bonus, but at this point it's not really going to effect his stock in my eyes. But the biggest thing I would like to see is improved ball security and more consistent technique there.
There is definite first round potential with Thomas due to his physical tools. Whether he lives up to that potential will depend on his ability to produce at a high level and improving a lot of the little things in his game. With no improvement to his game (particularly in terms of ball security) and clocking some of the numbers I would expect at the Combine, it's hard not to see him as a Top 50 pick. He's probably not good enough all-around or polished to be a Top 20 pick. But he's probably an early-to-mid second round pick with the potential to be a late first rounder.
"Vincere scis, Hannibal, victoria uti nescis" -- Maharbal, 216 B.C.E.