Solomon Thomas is one of the best defensive prospects available in the draft, and No. 3 overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft. Thomas came in No. 2 in Dan Kadar’s edge rankings for the draft, only behind Myles Garrett.
The pick shouldn’t be too surprising, considering 49ers GM John Lynch took the same class as him at Stanford in 2014.
Thomas is going to make an immediate impact on the defensive line. Rule of Tree said his best comparison in the NFL is the Seattle Seahawks’ Michael Bennett, who can play multiple ways on the defensive line effectively.
Named the Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year, Thomas led Stanford in tackles (62), tackles for loss (15), and sacks (eight) last season. Players who are able to pressure the quarterback, especially in today’s NFL, are quite valuable. It’s the reason why Thomas was the first non-quarterback from Stanford to be selected in the top five in the modern draft era.
Why did the 49ers select Thomas?
Thomas’ strength is just one of the traits that he brings to the field. He can play anywhere on the defensive line, and is one of the more athletic players in the draft.
He’s physically gifted
Thomas’ athleticism was on full display at the NFL Combine, and two drills in particular showed what he brings to the table. He ran a speedy 4.28 short shuttle time, proving he’s good at not only being quick, but changing direction at will.
His 30 bench press reps were tied for fourth best among defensive linemen at the NFL Combine, and will allow him to compete with the best offensive line the NFL has to offer.
He’s flexible on the line
As Dan Kadar points out in his assessment of defensive linemen, Thomas is able to play on the edge, or even move inside. His speed lets him get around the edge, and his strength means he can overpower the offensive line.
Here, Thomas bulldozes the offensive line to sack Mitchell Trubisky.
It’s plays like this where Thomas looks like the player many expect him to be at the next level.
Thomas is also one of the most interesting players in the draft
Thomas was born in Chicago, but spent his childhood down under in Australia. He took up soccer and Irish step dancing after school, and he wasn’t into football.
Thomas grew up out of shape thanks to a bad diet and a love for Xbox. When he came back to the United States and moved to Texas, his teachers and coaches helped him get on the right path.
Moving to a Texas town will do that to you. They’re serious about their football.
He looks like Russell Wilson
When Thomas visited with the Seahawks at the combine, the team had some fun with him.
The Seahawks had Thomas put on a Russell Wilson jersey, and took his picture, according to Andy Benoit of The MMQB. “I don’t see [the resemblance],” he says, “but a lot of people see it.”
You be the judge.
Are there any concerns with Thomas?
SB Nation’s Stephen White described Thomas as the most frustrating prospect in the draft. White says that Thomas is “hot and cold” with his effort, meaning that sometimes it’s there, and other times, it’s not.
Thomas’ versatility on the line is a double-edged sword, too. He can play multiple positions, but may not be a perfect fit at any one of them. However, Thomas is confident in his ability to adjust in the NFL.
“I can beef up and be that 3-4 defensive end, or slide down to a ‘3’ if they go to an over front,” Thomas said at the combine. “I can also be a 4-3 defensive end and still move down to that ‘3’ technique. I can move outside if you want me to. I’ll play wherever they need me to. I can play ‘em all.”