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Thursday, January 31, 2013

Scouting Report: Phillip Thomas, Safety, Fresno State University


Scouting Reports On: Matt Elam -- Bjoern Werner -- Damontre Moore -- Eric Reid

         The Detroit Lions head into the 2013 off-season with many holes along their defensive. Safety is one of the key spots they must address. Strong Safety Louis Delmas is a dynamic player when on the field, but the inability to stay healthy is a concern moving forward. Same goes with Free Safety Amari Spievy, who was lost for the season with a concussion, but unlike Delmas, Spievey has yet to show much potential since switching to safety during his rookie season. Likewise, veteran Erik Coleman was ineffective in spot duty and Ricardo Silva is still growing in the system as a youngster.

          Jim Schwartz previously talked about having players with divers skill sets, allowing them to play in various spots on the field. Thimas Dimitroff, Atlanta Falcons general manager mentioned this as well when he spoke with Steve Wyche of NFL.com.

        "Ideally, we'd like to get to a situation where you have interchangeable safeties," said Dimitroff, whose expertise as a college scout was evaluating defensive backs. "Maybe one guy is the strong safety, but you can flip it. Troy Polamalu and Ed Reed, those guys are great football players who set the benchmark. It's not easy to find those guys year in and year out, but those are the type of guys that we are ultimately looking for at the safety position."

        It is certain safety is a position Detroit will bring fresh blood into, one way or another. I have looked at film and evaluated each of the safety's the Lions will have a chance at come draft day.I discounted Baccari Rambo due to my hunch that Martin Mayhew will shy away from multiple drug related altercations, which ultimately landed Rambo a four game suspension before the season.

Phillip Thomas

Strengths: Thomas has the instincts to become a ball-hawking safety at the next level. Led the nation with 8 interceptions, 3 of those were returned for touchdowns. Solid hips in coverage, able to break on the ball with his quickness. Thomas is very good coming off the edge as a blitzer using his instincts to find the quarterback. In the Senior Bowl, he got beat a few times but had the closing speed to knock the ball down. In goal-line situations he isn't afraid to get his nose dirty.

Weakness: Thomas demonstrates poor angles far too often. He missed a lot of open field tackles. Drops his head and lunges at the ballcarrier in an attempt to bring him down. His injury history is also a concern going forward (see next portion).

Overview: Thomas played primarily strong safety in college, at the next level the team that picks him up would be wise to switch him to the free safety spot. He isn't a big-hitting run support safety, despite his size (6'1, 210 pounds), but shows the fluid hips and natural instincts when the ball is in the air. Needs to be coached up in-order to become a form tackler at the next level. He missed all of 2011 after breaking his leg and dislocating his ankle three days before the season. This should raise a few red flags but if the Lions are able to grab him early in the third round, he would become a perfect compliment to Delmas at the safety position.


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