2017 NFL Draft Scouting Report
Prospect:  Solomon Thomas


   

School:          Stanford
Ht:  6'3"       Wt:  273
Eligibility:      JR
Uniform:       #90
Position:      DE







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In an unusually scarce group of interior defensive linemen, Thomas has emerged as the prospect most feel will be the first drafted at the position. After only three years at Stanford, Thomas decided to make the leap to the NFL. While some feel he may be better suited as a strong-side end in a 4-3, I believe he has the ability to add some weight and be a star as a 3-technique in that system or a 5-technique in a 3-4. Stanford runs a number of fronts, and he has seen time at all of these positions which gives him the versatility to put him on every team's radar. Unfortunately for most teams. It looks like his stock is rising into the top-10 range, and he they won't get the opportunity to draft him.


What really jumps off the tape about Thomas is his explosion off the snap. This guy puts so many offensive linemen in a bad place because he gets off the snap and up the field so quickly that they can't get into position. To make matters worse, he has a nose for timing a quarterback's cadence as well as a center's tendencies and jumping the snap. He also does a good job at transitioning that initial explosion into power. When he does, his punch jars the offensive lineman off balance, and he drives the blocker into the backfield. He demonstrates violent and active hands and often disengages at the right time to be able to get his hands on the ball carrier. He also shows outstanding awareness. Against North Carolina in the Sun Bowl, I saw them run three screens toward the inner part of the field, and Thomas wasn't fooled by a single one.

The biggest question, as I mentioned, is what his best position is? He plays at 273 pounds which puts him on the heavy side for an edge rusher, but a bit light to consistently play inside. There are two reasons I think he fits better inside. First, there are instances where I see that he needs to add strength to his frame. He usually does a good job of holding up against the run, but there are occasions where the lineman fires off and stops his momentum. From there, he doesn't quite have the lower-body strength to sink and anchor, causing a stalemate. He also has a tendency to get a little high in those situations, and that negates the power he does have. Another area adding strength would help is when he finishes. His first-step combined with his power remind me of Ndamukong Suh and Fletcher Cox, but what makes those players truly special is the strength they have to finish. I have seen running backs run through his arm tackles without much-lost momentum, and even quarterbacks pull away from him when he only gets an arm on them. Obviously, these are situations where it would take a special play, but he can make them. In the NFL, offensive linemen are much better than he has faced. He can't just blow by or disengage cleanly every time. There will be times when he is in position to make a tackle or a sack, and the blocker is still going to be engaged with him. In those moments, that added strength would help him make the plays that can make him special.


The other area I see him better inside is with his pass rushing skills. I don't think he has the top-end athleticism to consistently beat offensive tackles. The change-of-direction skills aren't there to constantly be a terror off the edge. His hands and explosion are what gets him home, and that will fit better against interior linemen with less movement skills. Tackles have the ability to negate a good first step because of their length and the angle they take off the snap. Guards and centers don't have the luxury of taking those angles which is why strength is more of an asset inside. Strength only works when they get their hands on you, and Thomas is one of the best players in this draft at using his hands to keep blockers from doing that.

Thomas has excellent character and work ethic. He comes from an athletic family and was well-coached in both high school and college. Versatility is something coaches covet in the NFL, and he has it. I wasn't sure if he would declare after only starting two years in his first three on campus, but there is no doubt that he is a first-round talent. I expect teams to start considering him as high as 5 with the Tennessee Titans and from that point on, he makes sense for almost everyone.

Compares to (Current NFL Player): Malik Jackson (Jacksonville Jaguars)

Strengths
- Explosive off the snap
- Translates speed to power
- Terrific hands
- Outstanding awareness
- Work ethic and character are high
- Versatile to play across the line

Weaknesses
- Can add strength no matter where he plays
- Needs to finish better
- Position is still up in the air


Austin Smith
Austinjs14@aol.com
January 25, 2017



Articles/Links
1)   Stanford's Solomon Thomas enters NFL Draft: Major blow to Cardinal defense   - The Mercury News
2)   NFL Draft: Stanford's Thomas outshines Trubisky in battle of future first-round picks   - CBS Sports
3)   Stanford's Solomon Thomas is a sack artist and run stuffer    -SF Gate
4)   Solomon Thomas Twitter
5)   SOlomon Thomas Instagram









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