EUGENE, OR - SEPTEMBER 08: Colt Lyerla #16 of University of Oregon Ducks runs past Tristan Okpalaugo #88 and Phillip Thomas #16 both of Fresno State Bulldogs during the first half of the game at Autzen Stadium on September 8, 2012 in Eugene, Oregon. (Photo by Kevin Casey/Getty Images)
Fresno State safety Phillip Thomas was highly-productive during his time in college, intercepting 13 passes and forcing six fumbles. The 6-1, 208-pound safety picked off eight passes in 2012 alone.
Thomas has prototypical NFL size. On tape, he appears more explosive than his 4.65 Combine time indicates. With a 10-8 broad jump and 35-inch vertical, you’d expect Thomas to run a better 40 at his pro day. Right now, Thomas looks like more of a mid-4.5 guy on tape, playing instinctually and closing on plays really well. You’ll rarely see Thomas take poor angles to the football.
Thomas has excellent play-recognition and always finds a way to be in on plays. He anticipates throws and tracks the ball extremely well in the air. Thomas has plus ball skills, rarely dropping potential interceptions. That allows him to excel in the deep half.
In the run game, Thomas is physical and not afraid of contact. He breaks down in space and wraps up better than most, knowing when to deliver big hits and when to pull back to make the sure tackle. He doesn’t fight off of blocks as well as you might like, but Thomas has the athleticism to avoid blocks altogether to make plays near the line.
Thomas can drop into the slot to cover receivers or tight ends at times. He’s got really fluid hips and quick feet, allowing him to play some man coverage even though he possesses only moderate speed. Despite his coverage ability, Thomas might not interest teams looking for a true “centerfielder” to play free safety.
NFL Comparison: Rahim Moore
Like Moore, Thomas has a nice blend of size and coverage ability. Moore might possess a little more range, but both are play-makers with great ball skills in the back end.
Thomas is likely to get drafted anywhere from the back of the second round to the fourth round. In my opinion, he’s a second-round talent that will drop a bit due to the presence of a bunch of second-tier safeties who will probably get selected ahead of him. Still, Thomas will be an NFL starter and great value for whoever grabs him.
Fit In Dallas
I really like how Thomas would fit into Dallas. With the Cowboys likely to play a whole lot more zone coverage in 2013, they’ll need safeties who can drive on the football and make plays. That’s Thomas. He’s a prototypical Cover 2 safety; in the deep half, he doesn’t need the elite straight-line speed to cover the whole field, but he can still utilize his athleticism to force turnovers.
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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.