Name: Solomon Thomas
Position fit: Base defensive end and sub-package defensive tackle
Stats to know: Thomas is one of the elite run defenders in the nation and his 12.0 run-stop percentage ranks No. 6 among Power-5 defensive tackles.
What he does best:
- Elite run defender who uses strength to shed blockers easily
- Can generate pass-rush from the edge or the interior of the defensive line
- Wins as a pass-rusher with both power and speed
- Greatly improved as a pass-rusher in 2016 and saw his pass-rush production nearly double
- Pass-rush productivity of 9.0 ranks No. 16 among DTs in draft class
- 10 sacks, 12 hits and 22 hurries on 394 pass-rush snaps
- Moves quickly up and down the line of scrimmage in the run game
- Showed the ability to take on and shed all types of blocks in the run game
- Great feel for “back” blocks on “power” plays. Often disrupted plays two gaps away
- Has the quickness to attack one-gap and the ability to locate and shed to play two-gaps
- Good quickness into gaps on stunts, strong leg drive to bull-rush larger opponents
- Held up well as an undersized nose tackle in Stanford’s scheme. Anchors well when losing on first contact
- Doesn't have ideal size for an NFL defensive tackle at only 273 pounds
- Only one season of top pass-rushing production
- Can get overpowered by double teams and moved off the LOS, particularly on the front side of “power” plays
- May not have a true position.
- Most of his snaps came inside so he lacks reps outside the tackle where he is most likely to play on base downs.
Player Comparison: Michael Bennett, Seattle Seahawks
Thomas and Bennett are about the same size and both can play and pass-rush from anywhere along the defensive line. Thomas is more of a run-first player than Bennett, but they both fill a similar role as a base defensive end with the ability to kick inside as pass-rushers.
Bottom line: Thomas was dominant this season as shown by his No. 1 run-defense grade (92.0) and No. 6 pass-rushing grade (86.9) among FBS interior defensive linemen. Thomas has been highly productive the last two seasons but has followed a natural skill development progression as he was first a solid run defender and then made an ever-increasing contribution as a pass-rusher. Thomas’s pass-rushing productivity rating of 8.7 ranked No. 5 among Power-5 defensive tackles. Thomas has experience playing in the interior of the defensive line but only weighs 270 pounds so he isn’t exactly the ideal size to play inside in the NFL but his experience inside and his proven ability to hold up makes him an ideal candidate to play base defensive end and then a player who can shift inside to defensive tackle in sub-package situations. If nickel is the new base, then Thomas’ ability to stop the run plus rush the passer from inside or outside will make him a highly coveted player in the draft.