One of the many problems with the New York Giants in 2017 was the precipitous drop-off from a dominant defense to a horrible one.
While Olivier Vernon and Jason Pierre-Paul were solid all-around defensive ends, neither produced enough as pass rushers to truly earn their sizable contracts. Part of that is due to circumstance -- poor tackling and no pressure from the Giants’ offense allowed opposing offenses to stay balanced and denied the Giants opportunities to rush the passer.
But another problem was that both defenders played far too many snaps, routinely on the field for more than ninety percent of the defense’s snaps. While both are very well conditioned athletes, that kind of workload has to have an effect for a player who has to be explosive when it counts. Rookie Avery Moss flashed promise, but his workload decreased as the season wore on, and the Giants saw little of sophomore Romeo Okwara. They could once again turn to the draft to add to their defensive line depth, and Miami Hurricanes senior defensive end Chad Thomas is an intriguing prospect.
- Prototypical build. Tall with long arms and good thickness throughout his upper and lower body.
- High-revving motor. Never seems to give up on a play, fights through blocks, and plays through the whistle.
- Active hands. Doesn’t just try to bully his way past blockers.
- Disciplined pass rusher. Rarely over-pursues, loses contain, or loses track of what is going on in the backfield.
- Flashes an explosive first step and plays with good pad level.
- Looks agile on tackle-end twists.
- Regarded as a leader for Miami’s young defense.
- Not particularly productive in college. Improved every year, but never had more than 4.5 sacks.
- Played left defensive end almost exclusively. Can he move around the defensive line?
- Struggled against double teams.
- Plays with some stiffness. Doesn’t really flatten and bend around the edge.
What they’re saying about Thomas
Thomas is the second Hurricane to make the list from morning practice, and for the second day in a row he looked impressive. He’s a tall, rather athletic pass rusher who fires off the snap then moves well around the field. Thomas displays terrific edge speed and balance. His strength at the point is an issue, though Thomas projects nicely as a 4-3 situational pass rusher at the next level.
- Tony Pauline of Draft Analyst on Thomas’ Shrine Game practices
Thomas is one of those guys who just LOOKS like a New York Giants’ defensive end. Big, long, and powerful, yet athletic, he has everything the Giants have typically looked for in defensive ends. Considering the players Dave Gettleman brought in while at Carolina, I don’t think that’s one area where there will be significant change.
And considering the drama that infested the Giants’ defense in 2016, the stories about his leadership are refreshing as well. He is also, apparently, a talented musician and producer who has worked with the likes of Rick Ross and D.J. Khalid. That might lead some in the NFL to question whether or not football is Thomas’ primary passion -- That’s a question I can’t answer -- but he certainly seems dedicated on the field.
Thomas might not be the explosive speed rusher the defense currently lacks, but he looks as though he slimmed down and got faster to go with the rest of the Hurricanes’ defense in 2017. If he can keep building on that, he could turn into a mid-round steal and the kind of defensive end that a coordinator wouldn’t hesitate to rotate onto the field.