De'Anthony Thomas 2014 NFL Draft preseason scouting report

Harry How

Does he have a set position? Maybe not, but who cares?

De'Anthony Thomas | 5'9, 176 pounds | Running back | Oregon | Junior

92 rushing attempts, 701 rushing yards, 11 touchdowns, 45 catches, 445 receiving yards, five touchdowns

De'Anthony Thomas has already made quite the name for himself. His high school recruitment was a national story, he's never used a lowercase letter on Twitter and every time he touches the football, he's a threat to create a highlight.

Now, Kenjon Barner is in the NFL, and Oregon's backfield is Thomas' for the taking. Oregon coach mark Helfrich doesn't plan to run Thomas into the ground, but he can impact the game in a variety of ways that will reduce the wear and tear on his 5-foot-9-inch frame.

Where does Thomas fit into the NFL? Just about anywhere really.

What he does well

Thomas' is arguably the most electric playmaker in college football. He has outstanding acceleration and is shifty with the ball in his hands. Even more impressive than his sheer straight-line speed is his ability to stop on a dime and reach top speed in an instant. He's so tough to tackle because of his body control and ability to stay balanced in his running at all times. When a running back can cut the way Thomas can, it makes it difficult for tacklers to get the appropriate angle on him because he is able to change that angle in an instant.

As an inside runner, Thomas draws some criticism due to his size. But considering his build, Thomas displays impression vision and a bit of power between the tackles. Oregon doesn't pound the rock up the middle with Thomas, but when called upon he consistently picks up solid yardage by avoiding first contact at the line of scrimmage.

With "offensive weapon" being the new term used to describe hybrid players that can play running back and wide receiver, Thomas is sure to get that designation. Oregon lines him up in the slot on occasion, where he demonstrates the ability to get separation with quick cuts and acceleration. He has soft hands and is an obvious threat after the catch.

Thomas will make an impact right away in the NFL as a return man. In both the kick return and punt return game, Thomas makes people miss and has the vision to take advantage of every yard the coverage team is giving him.

What he needs to improve on

Size is the first and most glaring issue with Thomas. While he doesn't necessarily need to put on a ton of weight to be successful, Thomas has the room to get a bit stronger. His lack of size is an advantage in some ways, but he needs to add strength and prove that he can handle the workload of being an NFL running game.

One way Thomas could improve his power as a runner without even adding size is to play with a better pad level. He's a bit upright when running the ball and doesn't put all of his speed and power behind his pads. He gets away with it because of his athleticism and ability to make people miss, but in the NFL technique can be more important than skill at times.

Bottom line

Thomas' size will scare some teams away, but he is oozing with the potential to be a big-time playmaker. The success of players like Denard Robinson and Tavon Austin will go a long way towards determining how Thomas is perceived in NFL Draft circles. He has enough talent in the open field to make a huge impact even if his team has to limit his touches. Maybe he doesn't have a fixed position, but he will make plays. That should get him consideration in the first round, so long as he improves his strength and technique.

More Preseson 2014 NFL Draft content

X
Log In Sign Up

forgot?
Log In Sign Up

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior users will need to choose a permanent username, along with a new password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

I already have a Vox Media account!

Verify Vox Media account

Please login to your Vox Media account. This account will be linked to your previously existing Eater account.

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior MT authors will need to choose a new username and password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

By becoming a registered user, you are also agreeing to our Terms and confirming that you have read our Privacy Policy.

Join SBNation.com

You must be a member of SBNation.com to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at SBNation.com. You should read them.

Join SBNation.com

You must be a member of SBNation.com to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at SBNation.com. You should read them.

Spinner.vc97ec6e

Authenticating

Great!

Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.