Randy Sartin-US PRESSWIRE
Offensive Linemen that can play multiple positions are valuable commodities in today's NFL. Dallas Thomas tops that list this draft season, playing at a high level at both Guard and Tackle at Tennessee.
Thomas started every game (37) his last three seasons in Knoxville, as well as playing on Special Teams as a Freshman. His Sophomore and Junior seasons he played at Left Tackle, but was asked to kick inside to Left Guard his Senior season to get their best five guys on the Offensive Line. What happened? They were named the Tennessee MVP for the season. Also, Thomas was named Second Team All-SEC, which actually is a lot better than it sounds, as four of the five first team Linemen will First round picks this year, and the Fifth will be a top 10 pick next year. Pretty spectacular company.
Unfortunately after playing an entire four years without missing a game, he tore the labrum in his right shoulder during Senior Bowl week, which meant surgery and missing both the Combine and his Pro Day. As you would expect he was quite disappointed that he couldn't work out for teams. How is he convincing teams that he should be drafted up with the best guys at his positions?
Well, my film speaks for me. They can see me play. I've been playing for three years, started three years. I never missed a game in the SEC, so I'll be fine. I may be injured, but I'm still the same player I was. Even though I've got a setback going on right now, I can still get the job done once I get healed up.
My first thought is the Colts have a guy, and possibly two, that already can play both Guard and Tackle (Ben Ijalana and Jeff Linkenbach). Ijalana in particular jumps out, as he was a mid-2nd round player, which is most likely where Thomas will end up. For a team that has needs at so many positions, trading up a round to get a guy with a similar skill set to guys already on the team, probably isn't the best use of resources. Before the injury, I think Thomas could have been a potential pick for the Colts at #24, and it might have been a stretch even then. I'm guessing that a talent like him most likely won't fall all the way to round 3, but would be a steal if he falls that far.
Displays the potential to start as either a tackle or guard in the NFL. Plays with natural bend in the knees, and flexibility. Possesses excellent agility. Can sit down into his blocks and anchor.
Foot quickness is a bit lacking. Must continue to get stronger in the lower body, will give up a bit of ground against powerful defenders -– especially when he fails to land his punch correctly.
STRENGTHS: Naturally large man with even weight distribution and the long arms to make the transition back outside to offensive tackle. This isn't the typical rotund blocker who is simply too un-athletic to compete on the outside. Thomas is an impressive athlete who plays with very good initial quickness as well as top flexibility and balance.
WEAKNESSES: While Thomas has demonstrated some of the traits necessary to move back to offensive tackle and be successful, there are reasons why he was moved inside. Thomas can get himself in trouble by playing too low, on occasion, as well, giving savvy defenders ample opportunity to simply "swim" over the top of him with a quick arm-over move.
COMPARES TO: Marshall Newhouse, OL, Green Bay Packers -- Like Newhouse, Thomas has the size and athleticism to handle a variety of roles up front and is a dependable, hard-working player. He is a bit of a 'tweener, however, whose best assets may in fact be this versatility and toughness.
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