This morning we continue our series of scouting reports on potential Chicago Bears draft targets in this month’s 2017 NFL Draft as week take a look at Stanford University’s leading pass rusher from the 2016 season, Solomon Thomas.
Player: Solomon Thomas
Position: Defensive end or Sub-Package Defensive Tackle
Year: Redshirt Sophomore
Size: 6’3” and 273 LBS
The Chicago Bears are going to have a lot of options with the third overall pick. General manager Ryan Pace has consistently said that the organization will take the “best player available.” That is even more true because the team has signed Mike Glennon to be their starting quarterback. The Bears will take a quarterback in the draft, but it doesn’t have to be in the first round.
When having a top five pick, an important thing to remember is need is not the most important thing when deciding on choosing a player. With that being said, the Bears don’t desperately need another pass rusher, but if this player is available, the Bears are going to have a hard time passing on him.
Solomon Thomas was Stanford’s best defensive linemen last season and it wasn’t even close. In 2016, Thomas received multiple All-American honors and won the Morris Trophy, which goes to the Pac-12’s Defensive Player of the Year. He recorded 62 tackles (15 for loss) and eight total sacks. He was also one of the best run defenders in all of college football.
The Bears, and John Fox’s history tell us that the team will most likely take a defensive player with the third overall pick and Solomon Thomas will be the best player available.
- Athletic Build: Thomas has great genes. His father, mother and uncle all played college athletics. He is able to get out of his blocks quickly thanks to his hands. He posses very skilled hands that are an important trait of every successful NFL defensive lineman. His athletic build also allows him to attack using his power and quickness to his full advantage.
- Ability to Stop the Run: Due to his length and strength, Thomas has the unique ability to be a prolific run stopper. He is very strong when it comes to protecting run lanes and can get inside because of his quick first step. He is very agile, which allows him to explode into gaps and force losses in yardage and turnovers
- Versatility: Thomas does not have a set position coming into the NFL. He has the skills to either play as an end or tackle on the defensive line. Some may see this as a disadvantage, but the ability to play multiple positions should have defensive coordinators excited.
- Intelligence: Thomas is a bright kid. That is obvious considering he attended one of the best academic schools in the country. He has a lot of knowledge that allows him to play multiple positions and be successful at all of them. His knowledge helps him make calculated risks when choosing which gap to attack. Physical ability is important, but so is brains in the NFL.
- Tweener: Many scouts have labeled Thomas as a “tweener,” which means he does not have a set position. That also indicates that he may lack some reps that he could have benefited from having during his college days. This can be seen as a negative by some, but as I stated above, a defensive coordinator should have no problem using Thomas in the NFL.
- Size: At 273 pounds, Thomas is not at the ideal weight for an NFL defensive tackle. However, he should be able to gain 10-15 pounds with the help of a team’s strength and conditioning coach.
- Plays Tall At Times: Thomas has a negative tendency to play tall. That makes him prone to double teams at times. He needs to consistently be lower to the ground. Again, that is something that can be easily corrected through practice.
- Snap Count: I’m not sure I would bring this up in another players scouting report, but it is very hard to find negatives with Thomas, so I decided to include. During his college career, Thomas would have issues with jumping off-sides. This is another small, correctable problem to have. With that being said, some NFL players still have a problem staying on-sides. Cough, cough Michael Bennett.
Solomon Thomas is one of the most underrated players in this year’s draft. The Bears may not have the immediate need of a defensive linemen, but choosing the best player available is something general manager Ryan Pace has stressed since January. Thomas could very well be that guy depending on the selections of the Cleveland Browns and the San Francisco 49ers.
Defensive coordinator Vic Fangio would find multiple ways that Thomas could help the defense. Personally, I believe Thomas will have the most success as a defensive end. Based on his skills and abilities I would compare him to Justin Smith or Michael Bennett.
The Bears are going to take a defensive player with the third overall pick. The question now is are they going to address the secondary or take the best player available? Everything points to the Bears doing what Ryan Pace says, but with this organization you never know.
Be on the lookout for more scouting reports this month as we near the April 27 NFL Draft!