Sporting News’ Pro Football War Room has hundreds of player evaluations in preparation for the 2010 NFL draft. Here is a capsule look at prospect Cam Thomas.
NFL position: DT/NT
40 time: 5.33
Current projection: Third-round pick
Strengths: Has a big, thick body with rare strength and quickness. Shows the foot quickness and instincts to consistently be the first lineman moving at the snap; can jolt pass blockers upright and drive them into the QB. Can beat one-onone pass blocks by guards. Can get inside "reach" blocks, hold his ground and disrupt plays in backfield. Has the strength to hold his ground against double-team run blocks; flashes the ability to split it and make tackle on runs at him. Flashes good competitiveness and quickness moving through traffic and chasing down ballcarriers between the tackles.
Weaknesses: Lacks ability to explode through gaps to penetrate consistently. Has a bad habit of getting upright and not playing aggressively, causing him to get tied up too often. Does not deal well with side blocks, and can be either ridden down the line or sealed by them. Does not pass rush effectively if unable to jolt offensive linemen with hand punch. Lacks the speed to make plays outside the tackle box. Does not play with great intensity on every snap.
Bottom line: Thomas has the ability to be a dominant player at the point of attack when aggressive but was somewhat of an underachiever in college. During Senior Bowl practices, he was exactly the same—showing flashes of talent to be a dominant player but then giving inconsistent effort throughout the week. He is a boom-or-bust prospect, so G.M.s should be careful not to overdraft him on his potential. He fits at tackle in a 4-3 scheme but might have more value as a nose tackle in a 3-4 system. He shouldn’t be drafted until the middle of the third round, at best, but could find his way into the second simply because so many 3-4 teams are desperate for a young nose tackle.
For more than 640 player scouting reports from Russ Lande and his team of former NFL scouts — plus updated mock draft, Super 99 rankings and more — go to warroom.sportingnews.com.