Name: Solomon Thomas
Class: RS Sophomore
Background: His dad was a former college basketball player and mom was a former college track athlete. Thomas was born in Chicago, IL and moved out to Texas to start fourth grade. According to his mother, Solomon Thomas weighed a staggering 195 pounds at that age. He also lived in Australia for five years.
Thomas was recruited as a defensive end at Coppell high school in Coppell, Texas where he played football all four years and lettered in basketball. As a football player, Solomon Thomas was highly recruited, earning all-district honors in 2011 and all-state honors in 2013. As a senior, he was ranked as the third-best strong-side defense end in the nation by Rivals and 247 Sports, and fourth best defensive end by ESPN and Scout. Took up boxing last summer and plans to continue it as a hobby, Thomas was trained with Stan Martyniouk, a former trainer for Manny Pacquiao.
Injury History: N/A
2015: 24 solo tackles, 10.5 tackles for loss, 3 sacks, 2 fumble recoveries
2016: 41 solo tackles, 15 tackles for loss, 8 sacks, 2 fumble recoveries, one forced fumble.
Summary: Solomon Thomas played in each game of his two seasons with Stanford. In 2016, he was one of two Morris Trophy winners (Best Pac-12 lineman). He also led the Cardinal in solo tackles, total tackles, and won All-American honors. In fact, scouts are intrigued by his versatile role within Stanford’s defense and strong athletic potential.
2016- Arizona, Kansas State, USC, UCLA, Notre Dame, Colorado, Washington
Flexibility: Thomas’ tape features awesome pad level, he plays low and can use leverage set the edge, enter the backfield, or help collapse the pocket. His quickness off the ball combined with such flexibility helps him blow up zone run plays. This quickness also allows Thomas to exploit stiff offensive linemen in passing situations.
Versatility: Throughout his career at Stanford, Thomas lined up within a variety of defensive fronts. This gives him experience at impacting the game from just about anywhere. He can uniquely impact from techniques one through seven as he enters the draft.
Range: Thomas has the speed that can stand with many defensive ends and he has the flexibility to bend the edge. Very good hip and ankle flexion combined with playing with a good pad level also allow him to change directions and pursue ball carriers. I wasn’t surprised at all to learn he led the Cardinal in solo tackles, he’s definitely one of their more dynamic athletics.
Hand Usage: His tape featured a strong swim move and bull rush that he uses to pressure the quarterback or sneak into the backfield. He’s also smart at approaching his match-ups with the proper technique. Thomas will try and win with his quickness when faced with power on the interior line. I think he can use both speed and power on the edge, but he’ll often choose to win with power and can do well against tackles or tight ends.
Anchoring: Double teams eat him up when playing on the interior. Moreover, he struggles to keep his feet moving to properly compete versus a double team. Additionally, he can struggle versus the run when playing against interior linemen. I see him as more of a penetrating player than an anchor. This is an important not for the next level.
Length/Size: He’s a little light for a three-technique, and a little shorter than most defensive ends. Typically prospects at defensive end or five technique are a little longer and a little heavier. Specifically, at a five tech, NFL coaches prefer plays that close to 6’5″ and about 300 pounds.
Scouting Combine Analysis
Athlete Type: Dynamic Speed Dominant
Explosive Lower Body: 93rd Percentile Speed: 91st Percentile Dynamic Speed: 97th Percentile
Film Study Grade:
Pass Rush 9/10 Run Support: 8.5/10 Strength 8/10 Hand usage- 9/10
Hardy’s Take: I had to triple-check my numbers, but Solomon Thomas did indeed test into the top 10 percentile of each of my three categories for edge rushers. I referred to him as a defensive lineman to credit his versatility, but I have him graded as a strong-side defensive end. His athletic capabilities in terms of how he could be used are a seven-tech or rush backer in a 3-4 scheme, a three technique (preferably in passing situations), or 4-3 defensive end.
Some scouts could also see him as a five tech, and while he doesn’t have prototypical five-tech size, I’ll point out Justin Smith of the San Francisco 49ers as an example where this worked out. Smith was a base five-tech, but was at his best lining up at the four or six technique as a penetrating lineman and also as a defensive tackle in nickel and other sub packages. If he builds on his potent hand usage, he can be an immediate starter and early Pro Bowl participant in the NFL.
Draft Projection: 1st round (Top 5)