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Tennessee Volunteers Football: Dallas Thomas a First Round Tackle?

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)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
Daniel BarnesCorrespondent IIIAugust 30, 2012

Recently, Scouts Inc. released their top 32 prospects for the 2013 draft, and it included a couple of Tennessee players, although they aren't the ones you'd think.

Everyone knows that former Vol Da'Rick Rogers, wide receiver Justin Hunter and quarterback Tyler Bray have received a lot of hype from draftniks, but a pleasantly surprising name on the list was left tackle Dallas Thomas.

This surprised me quite a bit, especially considering that this is one of the deepest tackle classes in years and Thomas has been moved to left guard in the most recent Vols depth chart.

Now, anyone familiar with Tennessee football knows that Thomas is a great tackle. In the Vols' 2011 matchup against Cincinnati, the Bearcats' defensive line was a lot more disruptive in Thomas' absence.

I had seen Thomas ranked as a high pick on other draft sites, but to see him ranked as the 28th overall prospect was surprising, even to someone like me.

Thomas is one of only three tackles ranked in the top 32, and he is ranked ahead of standout Texas A&M tackle Luke Joeckel. Only North Carolina's Brennan Williams made it higher on the list at the position, ranking at No. 17.

Now, as surprising as all of this is to me, the more I think about it, the more I think I should've seen this coming. Thomas has the right measurements for the position, standing 6'5" and weighing 305 lbs.

He's got experience as a two-year starter, and after next year, he'll have three years of starting experience (it doesn't hurt that he's been the best lineman on the team both of those years).

Oh, and that offensive line he's anchoring? It only allowed 18 sacks last season, and that included games against Alabama, LSU, Georgia, South Carolina and Arkansas.

Finally, there's his move to guard, a move that can only help him. If he proves that he's just as good an interior run blocker as he is an exterior pass protector, then he'll be able to add positional versatility to his resume.

One reason Alabama center Barrett Jones is getting such hype is that he can play at multiple positions on the offensive line. If Thomas can show the same kind of versatility, then he will only help his draft stock.

So, I guess when I put all the information out in front of me, I shouldn't really be that surprised to see Thomas ranked as the second-best tackle in the class. In fact, the more I think about it, the more I think the recognition is long overdue.

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