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Earl Thomas is one of the most impressive rookies of the 2010 class. His ceiling frankly does not exist, and there’s no reason to believe he can’t someday develop into the league’s best FS.
But Thomas’ greatest strength, his instincts, is also his greatest flaw.
As a rookie, Thomas had an impressive five interceptions. He was also reliable against the run, his ball skills are excellent and his closing speed is second-to-none.
But there were many times in 2010 when Thomas simply found himself out of position. He played like a wild stallion in the Seahawks' secondary; free roaming, seemingly everywhere at once, but without the maturity to know how to harness his talent to play within an overarching defensive scheme.
Perhaps more importantly, Thomas is quite humble. Although he was listed as a Pro Bowl alternate as a rookie, he simply assessed his season as "up and down." I think it would be hard for even the harshest critic to merely refer to his stellar rookie year as "up and down," but that’s how Thomas feels.
Perhaps that’s because only Thomas truly knows how great he can be. He spent the majority of the offseason studying tape from last season trying to improve his reliability in coverage, and he trained at his alma mater in the scorching Texas heat in order to make 2011 even better.
Clearly Thomas has the talent to be elite in the league; we knew that when he was drafted.
But he’s also demonstrated that he has the work ethic and humility necessary to truly maximize his potential.
I think Earl Thomas, along with Eric Berry, will become the NFL’s new prototypical FS—which, really, isn’t a huge departure from the last prototype (Ed Reed) to whom they both have been (appropriately) compared.
Honorable Mention: Golden Tate, WR