Third Round: 77th Pick
Beyond the first and second round, NFL teams want versatility in their linemen, which is exactly what Dallas Thomas brings to the table.
After starting at left tackle for two years, Thomas shifted inside to left guard as a senior. This versatility will make him a valuable backup at the very least, making him a safe selection if he falls to the third round or later.
As an interior lineman, Thomas' strength is his athleticism. He moves well for the position and could potentially excel in a zone-blocking scheme.
Based on his skill set, Thomas' upside is unquestionably highest as a guard in the NFL, but he does move well enough to play right tackle at the next level.
When lined up at guard, Thomas' primary weakness is his lack of strength. He is often driven back into the pocket by more powerful bull-rushers and struggles to move nose tackles off their spot in the running game.
As a tackle, Thomas lacks the athleticism to kick outside and stay with faster edge-rushers. While his technique is sound, he simply lacks the raw athleticism and will be a liability in pass protection in certain matchups.
Thomas is a classic guard/tackle 'tweener who doesn't fit perfectly at either position. When viewed as a guard, he lacks the elite size to dominate in the power run game. But when lined up at tackle, Thomas lacks the athleticism to excel in pass protection.
He weighed in at 6'5", 306 pounds at the combine, meeting the minimum requirements for either position, but he lacks the elite measurables to be an obvious fit at either spot.
Thomas was a three-year starter at Tennessee, starting the final 37 games of his career. He remained healthy throughout his playing career but was forced to skip his combine and pro day workouts due to a shoulder injury.
His willingness to shift from left tackle inside to guard prior to his senior year demonstrates his commitment to the team.
Thomas could potentially play right tackle in either a man-blocking or zone-blocking scheme. However, as an interior lineman he is best suited for the zone-blocking system.
Thomas' ability to work well in space on the inside will suit him well in the zone-blocking scheme and he could potentially be an asset to a team running some form of a read-option offense.
He has played in both zone-blocking and run-blocking schemes during his time at Tennessee.
When lined up at left tackle, Thomas struggles with speed-rushers off the edge. He lacks the quick footwork to slide outside with pass-rushers who explode off the line of scrimmage.
On the interior line, Thomas' athleticism is actually an asset. He's reasonably quick in tight spaces and matches up well with 3-technique pass-rushers.
However, Thomas lacks the strength to consistently hold up against more powerful nose tackles in one-on-one matchups. He struggles to stay low enough to play with good leverage and seems to lack the lower body strength to anchor himself against the bull rush.
Thomas is quick off the snap, but his power is average at best. If he doesn't immediately put himself in a position of leverage, he struggles to hold his ground and open up holes.
His best asset as in interior run blocker is his ability to get to the second level. He moves well for an interior lineman, and demonstrates impressive field awareness when blocking on the move.
Recovery/Blocking in Space
As a left tackle, Thomas struggled to recover when beat off the snap. He simply doesn't have the build to allow him to quickly slide outside with faster edge-rushers. Whether he plays right tackle or left tackle, the NFL's top edge-rushers will consistently beat him off the snap.
As an interior lineman, however, Thomas' ability to block in space is an asset. He moves well for the position and can mirror most interior pass-rushers.
While he lacks the physical tools to dominate, Thomas displays consistent technique in all aspects of the game.
He lacks elite upper body strength, but his is fairly explosive off the line and consistently delivers a strong initial punch in.
Thomas' versatility makes him a very safe selection in the middle rounds of the draft. His experience at both guard and tackle should make him, at worst, a viable backup in any scheme.
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