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.
1-poor, 2-weak, 3-above average, 4-very good, 5-elite
BALL SKILLS: 4.0
"Vincere scis, Hannibal, victoria uti nescis" -- Maharbal, 216 B.C.E.