The more film I watch of Texas third-year sophomore S Earl Thomas, the more impressed I am with his...
The more film I watch of Texas third-year sophomore S Earl Thomas, the more impressed I am with his combination of skills. Outside of Tennessee's Eric Berry, there is not a safety in the country who wears more hats for his defense than Thomas.
The first thing that jumps out is that Thomas lines up all over the field. He can shadow wide receivers in the slot, and Thomas made a nice interception against Missouri after lining up over the slot, turning with the receiver out of his break and adjusting well to the ball. He also shows tremendous range when playing the deep middle in zone coverage, and he shows rare closing burst for a college player both when the ball is in the air and when tracking down ball carriers. He simply makes plays and is always around the ball.
The one knock on Thomas is that he is a bit undersized at 5-foot-11, 198 pounds, but he has time to fill out his frame and get stronger over the next couple of years, be it at Texas or in the NFL. Whether Thomas enters the draft in 2010 or 2011 -- or even 2012 -- he has the look of an early-to-mid first-round pick.
Should Thomas leave school following this season, the overall safety class would become very strong. Berry ranks as the No. 1 overall player on the board, and while USC's Taylor Mays remains in the top half of the first round, Thomas could become legitimate competition for the No. 2 spot in the safety class. With LSU's Chad Jones rising into the early-second-round area and South Florida's Nate Allen showing the physical tools of a second-rounder, we could see five safeties come off the board in the top 50 picks in 2010.