The Atlanta Falcons could use someone who would allow its offense to be much more explosive.
De'Anthony Thomas from Oregon could be that kind of weapon, as well as being someone who gives the Falcons depth in the event that Julio Jones goes down again. He'd also be a good fit for Atlanta as a slot receiver and change-of-pace back.
According to Ross Jones of Fox, the Falcons worked out Thomas to see how he would fit into their offense. Follow along as we explore Thomas' strengths, weaknesses and place in the Falcons' scheme.
Running Back/Offensive Weapon/Return Specialist
University of Oregon
Combine/Pro Day Measurements
Height: 5'8-5/8" Weight: 174 pounds
Arm Length: 29-7/8" Hand Measurement: 8-1/8"
40 yard dash: 4.39 sec. 10 yard split: 1.55 sec.
20 yard shuttle: 4.23 sec. Three-cone Drill: 6.94 sec. Bench Reps: 9 reps
Vertical Jump: 32.5" Broad Jump: 10'4"
2013: 10 Games Played, 96 Carries, 594 Yards, 8 Touchdowns, 22 Catches, 246 Yards, 1 Touchdown, 21 Kick Returns, 513 Yards, 1 Touchdown, 1 Tackle
2012: 13 Games Played, 92 Carries, 701 Yards, 11 Touchdowns, 45 Catches, 445 Yards, 5 Touchdowns, 13 Punt Returns, 222 Yards, 1 Touchdown, 16 Kick Returns, 389 Yards, 1 Touchdown, 2 Tackles
2011: 14 Games Played, 55 Carries, 595 Yards, 7 Touchdowns, 46 Catches, 605 Yards, 9 Touchdowns, 3 Punt Returns, 52 Yards, 36 Kick Returns, 983 Yards, 2 Touchdowns, 2 Tackles
Thomas is a real speedster with the ball in his hands. He’s a home run threat every time he touches it, whether it’s through the air, on the ground or as a returner. He can play in the slot or out wide in addition to fulfilling his responsibilities out of the backfield.
He’s got lateral quickness that is as good or better than his straight-line speed. He also has excellent vision that will allow him to find rushing lanes that less talented players never see.
As good as Thomas is as a speed back, he’s not a long term option as a featured running back in the NFL, because he has a very slight build and is not great between the tackles. He also doesn’t break many tackles because of said build.
He’s also not a very good blocker. He doesn’t seem to understand leverage when he tries to knock people out of plays. His best fit may not be at running back either. He might be best utilized as a Dexter McCluster-type receiver and offensive weapon.
How does he fit the Comrade Filter?
Thomas was never arrested, nor was he ever suspended by the Ducks. But he’s not a captain-type either. The Falcons will dig into his background to see if anything shows up, but he should be able to pass their character filters pretty easily.
Based on my personal research, Atlanta doesn’t tend to work out players without them having a pretty clean record—especially later-round guys who aren’t expected to start early in their careers. If he would have been project to go somewhere in the first three rounds, the Falcons would not have likely invited him.
Thomas is a great fit for many teams who want that home run threat as a change of pace. He can play anywhere in the offense and should be able to contribute early as a receiver, runner and returner. The biggest question surrounds his upside and how polished of a player can become.
He will also need to bulk up before he starts taking NFL-level punishment. Ideally, a team will have a featured back and multiple other change of pace guys including Thomas. This would allow him to play all around the formations and show off his versatility and explosion.
How he would fit into the Falcons' plans
The Falcons would be somewhat of an ideal situation for Thomas, as they have multiple starting-caliber running backs between Jacquizz Rodgers and Steven Jackson. The Falcons would likely have to spend a fourth- or fifth-round selection to get him.
That would definitely be worth the risk involved because he would at worst he would provide a skill set to what Rodgers offers. His value on special teams alone makes him a better roster option this year than Josh Vaughan or the newly retired Jason Snelling.
All stats used are either from Pro Football Focus' Premium Stats (subscription required), ESPN, CFBStats or the NFL. All combine and pro day info is courtesy NFL Draft Scout. All contract information is courtesy of Spotrac and Rotoworld.
Scott Carasik is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. He covers the Atlanta Falcons, College Football, NFL and the NFL draft. He also runs DraftFalcons.com.