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As I have been studying the upcoming NFL Draft (and, yes, I have studied it more this year than in the other 48 years of my life combined) I keep seeing reference to how a dozen or more defensive tackles could be taken in the first three rounds.
We have covered many of those, but there are still others we have not fully looked at. Let's check another off the list today by making North Carolina's Cam Thomas the subject of today's Daily NFL Draft Prospect Profile.
At 6-foot-4, 330 pounds the first thing that comes to mind when you see Thomas is 'nose tackle.' He is, by reputation a pure run-stuffer, but many believe he would be better as a 4-3 "one gap" tackle than as a 3-4 "nose" tackle. By the way, that's a spot Fred Robbins filled for the Giants for several seasons.
Robbins, obviously, is gone. So, let's take a closer look at Thomas.
Cam Thomas Scouting Reports
From SB Nation's Mocking The Draft.
A non-factor for the most part against the pass. Most likely a two down player at the next level. ... Can eat blocks and free up his teammates. Enjoys the dirty work. ... Has the perfect body for a run defending defensive tackle in a lot of schemes.
Can play the 2-gap role in a 3-4 at nose tackle, but his best fit is the 1-technique in a 4-3. He will not offer much in terms of versatility, but he can play the 2 down run-plugger-role at a high level.
He eats up space and blockers, freeing up his teammates and it was evident in 2009 as the UNC front seven had a breakout year as a unit. He brings the lunch-pail mentality with a high motor and team first attitude. He needs to keep himself in better shape so that he can play at a high level throughout the course of an entire game, but he proved at UNC that he puts football first as he lost over 30 pounds since his freshman year and molded himself in to a powerful defender. Because of the limitations and inconsistent play over the past two years, Thomas projects to be a 3rd-4th round pick. However, he is a guy that can play right away and fulfill one of the many run stuffing holes across the league.
From Consensus Draft Services.
Thomas is a big, strong interior lineman who shows surprising athleticism. ... Is surprisingly athletic for a big man and shows good backside pursuit. Relentless player who keeps after the play until the whistle blows. ... Doesn't make a lot of plays (i.e., his stat sheet is rarely impressive), but he does eat up blockers and free up teammates. ... Thomas is especially effective against the rush, but does not show much in the way of pass rush ability. He doesn't show moves other than the bull-rush. While he can be disruptive by collapsing a pocket, he rarely gets to the QB.
Elite size and strength. ... Can take on multiple blockers and still work his way into the backfield. Adequate quickness for a man his size. ... Not a threat to get to the quarterback with any consistency.
Why Thomas fits with the Giants
What part of "eats up space and blockers, freeing up his teammates" needs any further explanation? The Giants were soft against the run in 2009, particularly up the middle. Thomas is the type of player who could go a long way toward fixing that. Who cares if the guy is not a three-down player? The Giants traditionally sub linemen and move Justin Tuck, Mathias Kiwanuka or both inside in obvious passing situations. I see no reason new defensive coordinator Perry Fewell won't continue that approach.
Why the Giants should pass
Because the NFL is a passing league, and every down is now a passing down. If the guy has no chance to help the pass rush he is a liability if opposing teams throw while he is in the game.