(Editor's Note: Heading into the upcoming NFL Draft, held April 25-27, DallasCowboys.com will take a closer look at the prospects, including some that could be potential fits with the Cowboys. Today's featured player is Fresno State safety Phillip Thomas).
Name: Phillip Thomas
College: Fresno State
Age: 24 (born March 1, 1989)
Honors:Thomas made the most of 2012 after missing the entire 2011 season with a broken leg and a dislocated ankle. He was a unanimous All-American and a finalist for the Thorpe Award, given to the best defensive back in the country. Thomas won the College Football Performance Awards Defensive Back Trophy and was a unanimous first-team All-Mountain West selection, as well as the Mountain West Defensive Player of the Year.
Key Stat:Two things to consider. Firstly is that Thomas bounced back admirably from a season-ending leg injury. He played in all 13 games as a junior and was a part of 84 total tackles. Secondly is that he has a nose for the ball, as evidenced by his 13 career picks and six career forced fumbles. Eight of those interceptions and four of those forced fumbles came in his most recent season, which helped him to all of the above accolades. You can't necessarily teach that ability to sniff out turnovers.
Where He's Headed:As is the case with all but the most elite prospects, you have to weigh Thomas' impressive résumé against his so-so workout numbers. He ran a sub-par 4.63 40-yard dash at the Combine, though he did improve it to 4.53 at Fresno State's Pro Day. Still, most see Thomas as a second or third round pick.
How He Helps the Cowboys:Dallas needs safety help regardless of where they acquire it. Injuries forced the unit into a tough spot last year, and while guys like Matt Johnson and Barry Church are coming back from injury, they're hardly proven commodities. Thomas' ballhawking abilities could do wonders for a secondary that managed a feeble seven picks in 2012. [embedded_ad]
Scout's Take: The first game that I studied for Thomas was the Oregon game and he played awful. His tackling was poor, he couldn't get off blocks and he took some terrible angles to the ball. He also missed a tackle in space that resulted in a long touchdown run. … In games after that, mainly the Colorado contest, he was outstanding. He showed the ability to cover not only down the field, but much like Vaccaro, out of the slot. He was able to match up with the tight end and show that he could handle a bigger man as well. … In the Boise game, he did a nice job of taking on the blocker off the edge. He showed the ability to wrap up and get the ball carrier on the ground, and an awareness to see the screen, get in position and make the tackle. … Have to give him credit for the number of plays that he is able to make by getting his hands on the ball because I don't see a guy that plays with great quickness or speed, although he manages to make due. … Would be very interested to see where he is selected and will probably go much higher than I have him because of those visions of that Oregon game, but again, you have to give him credit for that knack of being around the ball. … Darren Sharper was the same way in his pro career. – Bryan Broaddus