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A New View of Kevin Thomas

Here’s a scouting report of Kevin Thomas from reader Jesse Nocon:

I would like to share my opinion of a pick that was called a reach by many in the sports media. However, I think that pick number 94, Kevin Thomas CB out of USC, was at the player’s value. While the majority of the amateur scouting is through online film clips, as a student at USC, I have the opportunity to watch every USC football home game live and in person. Therefore, I feel like I have a better understanding of USC players than any other school.

As a football player, Kevin Thomas has good athletic ability and plays as fast as his 4.48 combine forty suggests. He plays with explosion and a competitive edge, delivering more big hits than expected from a corner. His is more long than tall, but at 6’0” is not short. I do not personally know Kevin, but I have only heard good things about him in and out of the classroom at USC (which is not the case for all football players). He has all the tools to contribute immediately on special teams.

As a cornerback, Kevin Thomas has the necessary attributes to be a solid starting corner in the NFL, and at worst play the increasingly important nickel corner. Thomas has the field speed to not get beat deep, an explosive first step out of his break and a physicality that many corners lack. He was often used at USC in blitz packages and delivered punishing hits on the quarterbacks he sacked. While not always consistent in open field tackling, he is willing to hit and does not shy away from contact.

I think Thomas is better in man to man than zone. He can play both press and off man, using his length to jam and his athletic ability to run with receivers. In zone, he often showed the ability to break on a player, make a tackle and prevent the big play. I believe he has the ability to break on the ball and create interceptions as well, but has not showcased it on a consistent basis. The majority of offenses attacked the USC zone in 2009 with short underneath passes over the middle, exploiting an inexperienced linebacking core and avoiding solid DB’s like Thomas.  I think this is the reason, and not some inadequacy on Thomas’ part, that accounts for the lack of interceptions in his senior season. Furthermore, as a nickel corner in 2008, he had 3 INT’s, which is good production. Thomas is well-coached and held his own on USC defenses that have created multiple NFL starters and a defensive rookie of the year.

I think Thomas was considered a reach by many for his lack of big plays (int’s) and durability concerns. However, as long as he checked out medically, I think Thomas is at least as talented as Brandon Ghee, a corner taken only a few picks later. Thomas is exactly what teams should look for in the third round. He has the size, speed, athleticism and physicality to be successful at the NFL.

It seems to me that his lack of interceptions and overall average production are his two major weaknesses when he is on the field. However, because of the way teams attacked USC’s 2009 defense, Thomas did not have the opportunity to make such plays. Thomas is similar to another recently drafted USC corner, Terrell Thomas of the NY Giants. They are of almost identical size, with nearly identical combine performances. Terrell Thomas was drafted in the late second, and had five interceptions as well as almost 90 tackles in his second NFL season. Both show great athleticism and physicality. Both have the same strengths. However, Terrell Thomas produced more interception wise than Kevin Thomas at the collegiate level and therefore was drafted higher.

The Colts got what I believe could be a starting NFL corner as soon as his second year, just like Terrell Thomas for the Giants.

That’s certianly an encouraging report.  Thanks to Jesse Nocon for his thoughts and nice write up.