Scouting report: Earl Thomas, safety, Texas

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 Earl Thomas.
 

It doesn't take a leap of faith to see Earl Thomas as the draft's best safety prospect.
It doesn’t take a leap of faith to see Earl Thomas as the draft’s best safety prospect.

NFL position: S

Height: 5-10 1/4
Weight: 208
40 time: 4.48
Current projection: First-round pick
NFL comparison: Antoine Bethea, Colts
 
Coverage skills: Can make plays on deep passes along the sideline. Plays the ball well when he can see it, but when he running with back to the quarterback doesn’t always react in time. Turns and runs well with receivers man-to-man. Covers tight ends and running backs well man-to-man. In zone, reads the QB well from deep alignment. Closes fast and aggressively to break up passes or deliver hard hits. Is effective in all types of coverage. Grade: 7.0
 
Run/pass recognition: Is an instinctive player who reacts quickly to plays. Reads the play quickly and has the speed to chase down receivers sideline-to-sideline. Closes quickly on passes in front of him. Is rarely fooled on play-action fakes, and maintains his position in coverage. Grade: 7.5
 
Closing speed: Is a finisher. In coverage, has the burst to catch up with tight ends or running backs after initial separation. When chasing ballcarriers, at times stays upright and struggles to make good tackles. Grade: 8.5
 
Ball skills: Reaches in front of receivers to break up passes nicely. When back to the quarterback, lacks ball awareness. When getting both hands on the ball, makes the interception. Grade: 6.5
 

Run support: Is aggressive. Moves through traffic and has the strength to fight through blocks by wide receivers. Often launches himself at ball carriers to make a violent hit, but can miss tackles this way. Sometimes overruns the ball carrier when upright in pursuit. Can be a strong and physical tackler in run support when under control, keeping knees bent and maintaining good balance. Grade: 7.5

 
Bottom line: Thomas, a junior, moved up draft boards as more teams fully vetted his film. Tennessee’s Eric Berry has received more publicity and could well be the first safety drafted, but we feel confident that Thomas will be the better pro because he’s much better against the run than Berry.
 
For more than 665 player scouting reports from Lande and his team of former NFL scouts — plus updated Mock Draft, Super 99 rankings and more — go to warroom.sportingnews.com.
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 Earl Thomas.
 

It doesn't take a leap of faith to see Earl Thomas as the draft's best safety prospect.
It doesn’t take a leap of faith to see Earl Thomas as the draft’s best safety prospect.

NFL position: S

Height: 5-10 1/4
Weight: 208
40 time: 4.48
Current projection: First-round pick
NFL comparison: Antoine Bethea, Colts
 
Coverage skills: Can make plays on deep passes along the sideline. Plays the ball well when he can see it, but when he running with back to the quarterback doesn’t always react in time. Turns and runs well with receivers man-to-man. Covers tight ends and running backs well man-to-man. In zone, reads the QB well from deep alignment. Closes fast and aggressively to break up passes or deliver hard hits. Is effective in all types of coverage. Grade: 7.0
 
Run/pass recognition: Is an instinctive player who reacts quickly to plays. Reads the play quickly and has the speed to chase down receivers sideline-to-sideline. Closes quickly on passes in front of him. Is rarely fooled on play-action fakes, and maintains his position in coverage. Grade: 7.5
 
Closing speed: Is a finisher. In coverage, has the burst to catch up with tight ends or running backs after initial separation. When chasing ballcarriers, at times stays upright and struggles to make good tackles. Grade: 8.5
 
Ball skills: Reaches in front of receivers to break up passes nicely. When back to the quarterback, lacks ball awareness. When getting both hands on the ball, makes the interception. Grade: 6.5
 

Run support: Is aggressive. Moves through traffic and has the strength to fight through blocks by wide receivers. Often launches himself at ball carriers to make a violent hit, but can miss tackles this way. Sometimes overruns the ball carrier when upright in pursuit. Can be a strong and physical tackler in run support when under control, keeping knees bent and maintaining good balance. Grade: 7.5

 
Bottom line: Thomas, a junior, moved up draft boards as more teams fully vetted his film. Tennessee’s Eric Berry has received more publicity and could well be the first safety drafted, but we feel confident that Thomas will be the better pro because he’s much better against the run than Berry.
 
For more than 665 player scouting reports from Lande and his team of former NFL scouts — plus updated Mock Draft, Super 99 rankings and more — go to warroom.sportingnews.com.

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