Earl Thomas
5’10, 197 pounds | Safety | Texas

Agility/Hips: Shows smooth, fluid hips in his backpedal. Is a quick-twitch athlete, which would help him if a team decides to use him at cornerback. Exceptional short-area quickness. Can turn his hips

Ball Skills: Thomas has perhaps the best ball skills of any defensive back in this year’s class – Eric Berry included. Thomas is a natural with the ball in the air. He catches the ball like a wide receiver and properly carries the ball. Intercepted eight passes as a sophomore, and returned two for touchdowns.

Body Control: Great high-point agility. Times his leaps really well and reportedly has a good vertical. Maintains his balance while changing direction.

Instincts: Possesses elite recognition skills – both against the pass and sniffing out the run. When he plays back in coverage, Thomas does an excellent job of reading the quarterback’s eyes.

Pass Coverage: Thomas has the skills to be a starting cornerback in the NFL. He stays low in his backpedal and doesn’t take false steps in his break. Adept playing in zone. Has the quickness and playing intelligence to give up a cushion and breaking back on the play. Locates the ball exceptionally well, especially when it’s in the air.

Pursuit: Although Thomas gives up a good amount of size, he doesn’t mind taking on large blockers. Has flawless lateral pursuit.

Run Support: Gives a good effort supporting the run, but doesn’t have the size to always be a factor. Breaks on the ball really well. Not much more than a help player against the inside run. Doesn’t have the size to shoot through gaps in the middle and can be manhandled by guards and centers. Does a nice job of working the outside run.

Size: Listed by Texas at 5-foot-10 and 197 pounds, Thomas has average size for the position. His legs are strong throughout, so if he gets bigger he may not face a loss of quickness or speed. Where Thomas needs to get much stronger is in his upper body. He’s tight-skinned, but doesn’t have enough power to take on strong running backs in the open field.

Speed: Has very good straight-line speed to stay with receivers on deep routes. With his speed, Thomas can afford to play off tight ends which allows him to diagnose the play. Tackling: Solid contact tackler. Solid wrap-up tackler in the open space and will lower his shoulder and pop the ball carrier. In traffic and near the line of scrimmage, Thomas will sometimes become an arm tackler and miss. When he shows good technique, Thomas shows he can lower his pads and run through receivers.

Final word: Thomas had nothing short of a phenomenal season. He was second on Texas with 71 total tackles. He intercepted eight passes and totaled 16 pass breakups and 24 passes defended. Add to those numbers five tackles for a loss and you have one of the best seasons for a defensive back ever.

So when Thomas, a redshirt sophomore, announced he was entering the 2010 NFL Draft, it was no surprise. He was a finalist for the Jim Thorpe Award, which is given to the nation’s top defensive back. Several publications named him a first-team All-American and first-team All-Big-12 member.

Thomas started every game he played at Texas, 27 in total. Some might consider him as inexperienced, but Thomas has shown he has the football acumen to play at the next level. Played safety in college, but some teams might consider him a cornerback. His ball skills, agility and speed would say as much.