STRENGTHS - It is refreshing to evaluate an offensive linemen who uses his hands aggressively to punch defender and blocks with a "take no prisoners" attitude. His good core/natural strength looks even better when he pops pass rusher with hard punch as he often is able to stop them in their tracks. Maintaining pass blocks once he gets a good "fit" on defensive linemen looks easy because he blocks with good base and can slide side to side with ease. Having played offensive tackle his final two seasons at Tennessee, Thomas has the versatility to not only play guard in the NFL, but could also be a swing tackle. While his aggressive hand use helps him in pass pro, his aggressive attitude and playing strength make him a good in-line run blocker. He has consistently shown the ability to tie up head-up defensive linemen to keep hole open for running back and is able to collapse line on down/side block to open large hole. Being able to maintain base helps Thomas to move through the line to block effectively on the second level.
WEAKNESSES - Despite showing ability to be dominant in pass pro when he uses hands to aggressively punch defensive lineman and get a good "fit," he does not punch as consistently as he needs to and it allows explosive off the ball power rushers to jolt him and drive him backwards when he is not aggressive with hands. The reason he will likely have to play inside at guard in the NFL is that despite having good feet, he lacks the top end foot quickness to consistently slide out to the corner in time to set and take on speed rushers before they can turn the corner. In addition, he has a bad habit of stopping his shuffle, crossing over and chasing man after making initial contact, which leaves the corner wide open. On film Thomas looks very trim and in shape, but he will likely need to add some bulk/weight to play effectively at guard in the NFL.
SUMMARY - While many offensive linemen do not jump off the film, Thomas often did because of his aggressive use of hands and overall blocking demeanor. His heavy, two handed punch can stop pass rushers in their tracks and once he gets a good "fit" on man it is usually over. Thomas is never going to win any races in the 40, but he is a good athlete who can get to the second level to block effectively and can make the short pull to lead block well on outside runs. Having played tackle and guard at Tennessee definitely improves Thomas value because he brings great versatility to his team. Despite our belief that he is best suited to playing guard in the NFL, the reality is that at his size and with his experience playing inside and outside, he could realistically develop into a starter at any of the five offensive line positions. Overall, Thomas is likely to be a second or third round draft pick and is the type of lineman that I believe will win a starting job early in his career (Likely as a rookie) and be a good, solid starter for many years.