KNOXVILLE, TN - OCTOBER 15: Sam Montgomery #99 of the LSU Tigers against Dallas Thomas #71 of the Tennessee Volunteers at Neyland Stadium on October 15, 2011 in Knoxville, Tennessee. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Tennessee offensive tackle Dallas Thomas played left tackle in 2010 and 2011 before moving inside to left guard for his senior season. His versatility could help his draft stock.
Thomas is a tall, lean player at 6-5, 306 pounds. His 33-inch arms are about average for someone his size, so he should be fine to play either inside or out. It’s worth wondering why he was moved inside for his senior season because Thomas certainly has the athleticism to play left tackle in college. He’s somewhat of a finesse player, excelling in space when asked to get to the second level.
I watched four of Thomas’s games—two from 2011 and two from 2012—and he is a natural bender whether playing at guard or tackle. He does a really nice job of mirroring defenders when playing guard, using his arms to shield them from the quarterback in pass protection. His hand usage is outstanding.
Despite his athleticism, Thomas struggles with speed at times, particularly at left tackle. He doesn’t have incredibly quick feet and that can cause him to overset in order to compensate, leaving him vulnerable to different moves.
Thomas’s biggest weakness, perhaps, is that he’s not an overly strong player. He does a nice job of firing off of the ball in the running game, particularly when lined up inside, but he still doesn’t consistently win at the point. Thomas is also susceptible to the bull rush whether he’s playing inside or out.
NFL Comparison: Jon Asamoah
With very similar builds, Thomas and Chiefs guard Jon Asamoah are comparable players. Like Thomas, Asamoah has guard/tackle versatility, although the Chiefs guard is much superior in the running game.
Thomas is probably looking at the back of the second or early portion of the third round. That’s about where his skill set fits. He could potentially slide up a bit due to his versatility, but there are a plethora of second-tier offensive tackles that figure to get selected ahead of Thomas. If he’s viewed as more of an interior lineman, he’ll drop. I think Thomas will start to become value once he hits the middle part of the third round.
Fit In Dallas
It’s worth noting that current wide receivers coach Derek Dooley was Thomas’s coach at Tennessee, so there’s plenty of familiarity. Dooley will no better than anyone whether or not Thomas can handle playing offensive tackle in the NFL. It’s a tough decisions because Thomas struggles with speed at left tackle but isn’t a power player either. His most natural fit in the NFL might be as a guard and backup tackle.
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Jonathan Bales is the founder of The DC Times. He writes for DallasCowboys.com and the New York Times. He's also the author of Fantasy Football for Smart People: How to Dominate Your Draft.