Wednesday, 24 February 2010

POTD: Earl Thomas, S, Texas

By Kip Earlywine

Height: 5'10"
Weight: 195
Unofficial 40: 4.41


  • Consistent and productive
  • Good range
  • Quick
  • Good instincts, plays smart, smooth, does the little things
  • Good tackler
  • Shows some nice athleticism
  • Ball hawk skill set (reads eyes, good anticipation, etc)
  • Good in coverage


  • A little undersized

Sound Bites:

"Thomas isn't a huge guy but can cover a tremendous amount of real estate."

-Mel Kiper

My Thoughts:

Safety is one of the hardest positions to evaluate. A player can be hard to identify pre-snap, and they are constantly off the screen. So any of these safety previews are going to be extra light on content and insight. Apologies.

Earl Thomas, in a nutshell, looks like a 2nd round Tim Ruskell pick. The kind that was nothing but a stud in college and continued to play well in the pros despite some limiting factor (in this case, size). He looks really natural and pretty much does everything you'd want from a safety. Thomas won't be a 2nd rounder though, he'll probably go mid-1st round. His size deficiency is only a minor concern and his well rounded skillset and few flaws will make him one of the safest picks in the draft.

I'm not sure how I'd feel about the Seahawks drafting him though. He looks like a very good safety, but not a superstar, and since safety is one of the lowest impact positions on the defense, my tendency is to wait til the 2nd round or later to address that position. The Seahawks need impact with their 1st round picks, not more "sure things" with lower positional value. Not to begrudge Thomas. He's a deserving 1st round pick to a team that needs safety above everything else, and he will certainly have many suitors between picks 10-20.


CLanterman said...

Kip, in your opinion, what separates Thomas from Berry? They're both undersized, Thomas is a year behind him I believe, but they're statistics are fairly similar.

CLanterman said...

their* statistics.

Anonymous said...

If this guy is a mid first rounder then Berry deserves to be a top 10 pick. I think Berry will be an Ed Reed type of player and I would not be upset if the Hawks took him early but I think that only happens if Bradford and Clausen are both off the board. Tackle at #14 and D Line at 40.

Anonymous said...

Earl does get a few extra points for that gold cowboy hat though.

Rob Staton said...

I think there's actually very little between Berry and Thomas. People say Berry's tackling is better - I don't agree at all. Thomas might end up being the better player. Wouldn't surprise me at all. Just as good in coverage, maybe better. Makes big plays and interceptions. Size isn't great (like Berry). Might end up at corner if he runs well (like Berry). Both prospects should go between 10-20.

Anonymous said...

Seahawks need to perform draft triage and address their most pressing needs first, i.e. LT, QB & DE. Picking a safety, even all universe Berry is a luxury at this point.

Of course the above changes if they do some patch work with
free agents and trades.

Grant said...

"since safety is one of the lowest impact positions on the defense, my tendency is to wait til the 2nd round or later to address that position." I wouldnt say its the lowest impact position.... I'd say Troy Palumalu is a key part of the defense for the steelers, as is Ed Reed for the Ravens. I don't know if we can get an amazing pro bowl type like those, but to put one position as a higher impact position on Defense(not offense) I don't believe is a legit observation. Seahawks need a good DB or safety. One or the other.

Rob Staton said...

It's surely no coincidence though that Reed and Polamalu play on two of the best pass rush/pressure creating defenses in the NFL? Had Ed Reed been playing for the Seahawks last year, the Seahawks wouldn't win any more games. Had they had greater production on offense or a better pass rush, they would've done.

Grant said...

Lack of a pass rush exposes weak CBs and Safetys though. As ours were exposed after 2007. Would having a better Safety or CB have won games? Maybe one more pick or big play stop that changes momentum? I don't know. However, I dont believe either DE and S are better than the other. Both are important. But so is the Linebacker and noseguard etc... I just don't think we should think: well this position is more important so it can be put off until later in the round. I say we take the best available at either position. (Offense is different, WR are a dime a dozen)

Rob Staton said...

I would disagree slightly Grant, because if you give a good quarterback time to throw - it doesn't matter who's covering the receiver, he'll get open if he's given time. You can't cover a guy for 10 seconds. Pressure on the QB ultimately makes the entire defense stronger.

Anonymous said...

Follow the money. If safetys were impact players then they would get paid like corners and DE's. They arn't and they don't.

Anonymous said...

I think that the argument of Safeties being relatively unimportant has been severely questioned after this last year. Look at how not having Polamalu on the field decimated the Steelers defense. Ed Reed is amazing, obviously, but even the wily vets of Dawkins and Sharper highlight the importance of the safety position. Both Denver and NO’s Defenses improved drastically with their addition. Obviously some of that is their leadership but the days of it being considered an unimportant position are over. Look at the Giants safety Phillips being lost and how much impact that he being gone had on their defense. I agree that the defensive line is more important but the gap has closed.

In the draft it is important to gauge a positions importance but only to a degree. In fantasy football and in the NFL draft I firmly believe in the tier system (where you group together players with close to equal talent levels into tiers). I say this to illustrate that if a team draft BPA (as all smart teams do) they shouldn’t drop a player to a different tier because of his position but should rather push him to the back of that tier and the most important positions to the front (QB heading the list, of course). A great example of this is when Arizona past on Adrian Peterson to take Levi Brown. OT is the second highest positional worth positions and one could argue that RB is one of the lowest but in this instance overall ability should have won out.

Kip Earlywine said...

Levi Brown was a good pick, but luck plays a huge role in the draft.

I think what separates Berry is that he's just an extra tier better at being a ball hawk. His instincts and explosiveness are elite, whereas Thomas' are merely exceptional. Berry is also about an inch taller, and his size is not often cited as a concern.

I think Thomas is the more rounded of the two, but as far as I know, teams didn't gameplan vs. Thomas like they had to for Berry. Last year in zone, teams made a special effort to avoid passing into his section of the zone. If I had to make a clumsy apples to oranges analogy with LB, Thomas is like Tatupu, Berry is like JP. Well rounded and consistent vs. splashy and dangerous.

Rob Staton said...

Mike Mayock ranks Earl Thomas ahead of Eric Berry:

Kip Earlywine said...

Speak of the devil. I do a post on Earl Thomas and Mike Mayock has to disagree with me not 6 hours later. I love when stuff like that happens.

Nick said...

At what point does the NFL release its coaching film for the public? Fantasy football, Madden, and the draft have all increased the popularity of the NFL because fans love to pretend they are the coach or GM. Fans are dying to break down game tape - I see no reason why it isn't available. It's not like people aren't going to watch the network broadcast because the coaches tape will be available 48 hours later.

Nick N.

c-hawker said...

If you think Berry is low impact, you better watch some more tape.