(Editor's Note: While the start of the 2018 NFL Draft isn't until April 26, it's never too early to profile some of the key participants. The staff of DallasCowboys.com intends to preview the landscape of the draft's top prospect, with an emphasis on possible Cowboys draft picks – from the first round to the last. Today's featured player is Indiana's Ian Thomas.)
- Name: Ian Thomas
- Position: Tight End
- Height/Weight:6-3 / 256
- Honors:All-Big Ten Honorable mention as a senior in 2017.
- Key Stat:Thomas (25 receptions) averaged 15.0 yards per catch as a senior, fourth best in the nation among tight ends, according to the Hoosiers' web site.
Where He's Projected:
As things stand prior to the NFL Scouting Combine (where he received an invite), Thomas' draft projections are a bit scattered. A small Division 1 portfolio might be the reason. Thomas played at Indiana for only two seasons and totaled only 28 catches after transferring from junior college. He's generally considered a mid-round pick at this point, but he could move up to a Day 2 selection with impressive workouts.
How He Helps The Cowboys:
Closing in on age 36, 11-time Pro Bowl tight end Jason Witten is still going strong. But the Cowboys could look to develop more young depth behind him. Thomas' receiving numbers aren't gaudy, but he has the physical tools to grow as a receiver. He's versatile, too – Indiana often used him in an H-back role, where he helped block in the running game. The Cowboys ask a lot from their tight ends, and Thomas is used to moving around the formation.
- More of a traditional tight end than some others in this draft.
- Wasn't a high-volume receiver because of things the staff asked for him to do scheme wise at Indiana. Was asked to not only help block in the running game but stay in and help with pass protection. The school had a big-time receiver, Simmie Cobbs, they tried to feature, and that hurt Thomas.
- I thought Thomas showed some promise in the Senior Bowl with more up-the-field opportunities. His size and athletic ability are his best traits. Though you didn't see much of his hands, they appeared reliable and secure.
- When he gets drafted it will be because of his ability as a complete guy.