Prospect: Chase Thomas, OLB, StanforChase Thomas

Height: 6’3¼”

Weight: 244 lb.

Athleticism:

  • Lacks significant top end speed in pursuit, slow 40 yard dash at the combine corroborates
  • One speed player essentially, doesn’t have a second gear
  • Severe lack of acceleration trying to close on the ball, slow first step
  • Very light on his feet, changes directions cleanly, can take advantage of slow-footed blockers
  • Tall and lean linebacker, lacks functional strength in the box, operates much more effectively in space

Intelligence/Effort:

  • Assignment disciplined player who shows a high football IQ against varying offensive schemes
  • Very experienced defender with 48 career starts, including a season under now 49ers defensive coordinator Vic Fangio
  • Not an above-and-beyond defender in the effort category, dialed back energy level

Pass Rush:

  • Developed and natural hand usage as a pass rusher, takes what a blocker gives him with quick reaction speed
  • Impressive repertoire of pass rush moves, loves to yank and swim, also possesses a very quick spin move from outside in
  • Gets swallowed up as a rusher inside the tackles, limits potential in blitz packages from the inside or on stunts
  • Rarely generates power from the lower half as a rusher, predominantly a finesse/speed guy
  • Not incredibly flexible trying to dip his shoulder around the corner, but can flatten out enough if he can win with his first step

Run Support:

  • Shoots his hands into contact quickly, allows him to shed blocks to decent effect
  • Uses lateral foot quickness to sidestep and get around blocks
  • Can get rocked onto his heels by bigger run blockers, unable to stay stout and control blocks to much effect
  • Works laterally over the top of runs from outside well if when kept clean, doesn’t cross his feet and shuffles cleanly
  • Fills cutback lanes with discipline when pursuing from the backside
  • Low impact tackler who often drags down ball carriers or gets dragged first
  • Tendency to lunge into tackles instead of driving his hips through and churning his feet
  • Struggles to break down in space, leads to missed tackles and missed sacks

Coverage:

  • Good feel for reading the eyes of a quarterback, often given the job of spying mobile quarterbacks in college
  • Feet get stagnant in zone coverage too often, can get caught flat-footed as a result
  • Doesn’t play with his head on a swivel in man coverage and struggles to locate the ball as a result
  • Loose enough hips to turn and run in man, limited strength and punch ability for press technique though

Overall:

Chase Thomas put up some gaudy numbers in one of the nation’s best defenses the past four years.  He notched 27.5 sacks and 40.5 tackles for loss in his career.  You don’t put up those kinds of numbers without having any kind of skills.  Thomas is not a terrific athlete by any means and has size limitations.  The fact that he put up the numbers he did are a testament to his mentality, technique, and high football IQ.  He was used in a high number of ways in the Stanford defense as well, between rushing the passer and dropping into coverage.  Thomas’ lack of significant athleticism held him back at times in college though, and it’s only going to get worse in the NFL.  He’s also a bit of a tweener with no obvious positional fit.  He played a 3-4 SAM outside backer for the Cardinal.  A move to the weak side in a 3-4 is probably his best bet, although a move to a multiple defense is not out of the question.  It’s tough to see much upside with him unfortunately, he may be maxed out as a football player.  Thomas is ready to contribute right away, but he’s not going to be the high impact pass rusher he was at Stanford.  His relatively low ceiling and other limitations should keep him on the board until the third day, but some coach and GM could like him enough to take him before then.

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