Heading into the 2011 football season, Dallas Thomas was a relative unknown to many college football fans. After a strong season at Offensive Tackle for the Tennessee Volunteers, Thomas vaulted himself into the discussion of the top prospects in the nation. After a curious move to G this year, many in the scouting community wonder if Thomas is still an OT in the NFL or if he’ll stay at Guard. With a solid blend of size and athleticism and technique that’s better than what he’s given credit for, Thomas has a chance to sneak into that 2nd round range.
Size: Standing at 6’5 310 pounds, Thomas is a big athletic tackle who can also be powerful. His arms are long enough, although I’ll have no official records of lengths until the combine. The biggest concern many will have with Thomas is the weight and right now I think especially being an OT prospect he could stand to add another 10 pounds onto his frame. It’s something that won’t hurt him at all in terms of his speed and athleticism, but it’ll definitely help when he faces those stronger DE’s and DT’s in the NFL.
Technique: Thomas doesn’t get the credit that he deserves for his technique skill. Usually the theme with OT’s in college football is that they are athletic players, but not even close to refined in their technique. What sets Dallas apart from other OT’s is that he’s already a pretty polished OT. He places his hands well and does a great job of driving his opponent. Thomas doesn’t waste many motions in pass blocking or run blocking. When I watched him vs. Alabama last year Thomas was able to go up against a very good draft prospect in Courtney Upshaw and he did a good job. He was able to keep Upshaw away from his QB and also created a nice push in the run game to create some running lanes. At times he tends to get a little upright and that leads to issues in the run game and pass game. Thomas will obviously need to work on the little things when he gets to the NFL, but the potential is there.
Pass Blocking: Right now Thomas is a better pass blocker than a run blocker. In pass protection, Thomas is able to get a level base and issue a solid punch to keep his defender off balance. The biggest worry with Thomas this year was how could he handle against the bigger DT’s? Well against NC State earlier this year, Thomas did a great job of stonewalling his defender and allowing Tyler Bray the freedom to step into his throws and be successful. He does need to improve his footwork though. At times on film he spent too much time overextending or getting himself off balance. He could simply fix that by developing a stronger, centralized core and shorter steps to help him have more leverage against his defender. Thomas does a good job with his hand placement and doesn’t ever really get called for holding. Right now this is Thomas’ strength, and he can definitely be a viable asset to NFL teams early on.
Run Blocking: While it isn’t his best attribute, Thomas does a decent job as generating a push in the run game. Most OT’s are either a great run blocker or a great pass blocker and then subpar at the other. Thomas is a very good pass blocker and definitely an improving run blocker. He generates his push from his natural strength and his ability to play until the whistle blows. Most players now seem to stop when the play is over, but Thomas will consistently look to find someone until he hears that whistle. However, he isn’t great at finding defenders and at times he looks a little lost. From watching film, it definitely looks like Thomas is fast enough to get out on screens and pitch plays if he stays at Guard. From having such a limited sample size of his work at G, it’s tough at times to project just what he can do and if he can stay at that position. However, just like his pass blocking he does need to improve his run blocking technique. With adding that core and better base, Thomas can easily become a quality run blocker because of that good athleticism he already possesses. Thomas is fluid in space and gets to that 2nd level, but until he develops and refines his technique, he won’t be as effective as he possibly could.
Overall: Right now Dallas Thomas has become the hot name in the scouting community. At first glance last year against Alabama, Thomas was a good developmental prospect who had a ways to go. As the year progressed and Thomas improved that buzz continued all the way into this year. With the curious move to G making things difficult to evaluate, teams will have to rely more on his 2011 film, which may not be the best indicator of his true talent level. Right now Thomas is a solid mid 2nd round pick, but he continues the rapid improvement he showed in 2011, then theres no question Dallas Thomas can become that Duane Brown type of OT who’s taken late in the 1st round and shines early on.