Daniel Thomas Profile
College: Kansas State
Height, Weight: 6’0″, 230 lbs.
40 Time: 4.60
Bench Reps: 21
Projected Round: 2-3
NFL Comparison: Mike Anderson
My Take: Kansas State’s Daniel Thomas is my type of running back. He’s an all-purpose, every down back, that runs with authority. At 6’0″ 230, Thomas has the type of build that makes him tough to bring down, and he’s very good at always falling forward for an extra yard or two. He’s a pretty athletic for a guy of his size, and shows some good elusiveness in addition to being able to run through people. One of my favorite things about Thomas is his long striding, fluid running style. The way he runs allows him to build up a lot of momentum, and also allows him to cover a lot more ground per stride than an average runner. If you watch him on tape, he plays a lot faster than a 4.6, and that time was recorded when he ran with a pulled quad muscle. While he doesn’t have break away speed, he certainly has more speed than people might give him credit for, and his strong legs are always churning, which lets him single-handedly drive the pile. He has surprisingly good agility, and has the ability to cut or wiggle his way by defenders in open space. Thomas also has a strong stiff arm that forces defenders to have to ride him for a couple of yards to bring him down. Let’s take a look at Daniel in action against in-state rival Kansas, in 2009.
The first play of the game really showcases everything I like about Thomas. Many think of him being a slower, power back, but watch him on this run. He make a smooth, quick cut in the backfield and shows good burst hitting the hole. Then the power comes in as he makes it to the second level, where he breaks a tackle in the trenches, and then uses his frame and his strong legs to get an extra five yards. (0:46 and 0:55) Here’s something that I think Thomas needs to work on. As soon as he gets the ball, he just explodes to the line like he was shot out of a cannon, instead of being patient and waiting for holes to develop. It didn’t really matter on this play, because the hole was gaping, but the next play Thomas wasn’t so lucky. His lack of balance is a result of the way he just tries to get to the line as quick as possible, and here he falls over before he’s even touched. (1:02) A standard Daniel Thomas run. Runs hard, falls forward, gets you five or six yards. If he can do this at the next level, he’s going to be an every down back. (1:13) Probably the most impressive run of the game. Gets to the edge quickly and really shows off those long strides in open space. Once he gets to the next level, he makes a real nice slight cut to get by the safety and cut it up field for another ten yards. (1:37) Thomas shows some better patience and balance on this run. Follows his blocks nicely, and again uses those high stepping strides to get a coupe extra yards. (1:57) Again demonstrates an ability to get to the edge, and makes a great move to get by the pursuing corner. (2:17) Thomas shows a lot of potential with this run. Nice patience, follows his blocks well, hits the hole hard and with those long strides he could’ve been going along away if he didn’t lose track of the ball. Thomas fumbled seven times in 2010 so ball security is definitely an issue here.
Thomas also has some good ability as a receiver out of the backfield, and caught at least 25 passes in each of his two seasons at K-State. He really is a do-it-all back, that would make a great addition to any NFL backfield. He’d be really nice to have in a tandem, but I think if a team brings him along right, he could be an every down workhorse. Working against Thomas however, is his age. He’ll be 24 in October, which leaves him with only six seasons before he hits the dreaded age of 30 for running backs. Still, Thomas only played two collegiate seasons at the Division 1 level, so he doesn’t have as much wear and tear as other backs might. I think Thomas could struggle as a rookie in the NFL because of the balance, patience, vision issues I see with him. Even some of the best backs struggle in their rookie year to adjust to speed of the NFL game, and usually find themselves hesitating and being brought down before they even get going. The vision and patience issues aren’t severe in his Thomas’s case, and I saw some nice improvements in this area in his senior season. With the help of a good running back coach Thomas could really be a star, and has all the makings of a true every down back. His inability to work out this off season because of injury has really hurt his stock, and he could potentially fall on draft day. I don’t think he’ll fall that far, and in the third round Thomas will be a great value for a team that values film over a 40 time. Look for Thomas to go in the third round to a team that needs a complement to a smaller, more shifty back.
Additional Game Film/Highlights: