By: Mark Leipold
- Size & Athleticism
- College Dominance
- Blocking Strength
- Ball Tracking
- Red Zone
Size & Athleticism – Thomas is a big dude, standing at 6’4” and weighing 259 pounds, but tested very well athletically. When size-adjusted, his speed ranks in the 69th-percentile, his burst ranks in the 83rd-percentile, and his agility ranks in the 76th-percentile. He also has a massive wingspan (85th-percentile). His athleticism shows on tape, too. Watch him get downfield and nearly outrun the defense here (of #4 ranked Penn State at the time – not a pushover team).
College Dominance – Thomas has a limited college resume, but he produced well when given the opportunity. In his senior season, he accounted for 376 yards and 5 TDs (in 9 games) out of 2,336 yards and 20 TDs (in those same 9 games) by Indiana, which equates to 25% of the team’s receiving TDs and 16.1% of the team’s receiving yards. On a team with fellow 2018 NFL Draft entrant Simmie Cobbs Jr. at wide receiver, Indiana still got the ball to Thomas plenty.
Hands – Thomas seems to have very good hands and I didn’t see him use his body to catch balls. The replay in the first clip shows him catching away from his body (not by choice, admittedly, but he makes a nice, strong catch). The second clip shows his hand strength and size. The circus catch won’t happen consistently in the NFL, but the ability to make it always illuminates a player’s upside and athleticism.
Blocking Strength – Thomas has great strength and solid technique blocking. That won’t score fantasy points, but it will get him on the field. Watch him demolish a defender here – he looks like an offensive lineman blocking.
Ball Tracking – Given his small sample size (more later), it’s impossible to say this is a trend, but any TE who can make this catch earns a lot of points in my book. The official rules him out initially but the call is reversed to a touchdown. Not many TEs in the NFL can do this.
Red Zone – Thomas is a big boy, so will be a natural red zone threat, but he’s also versatile in the red zone. Check out this nice play for a score.
- College Production
College Production – No two ways about it – Ian Thomas has a very small college resume. Thomas had 28 receptions at Indiana (3 in his junior season, 25 in his senior season). While there is a lot to like on tape, it’s hard to be confident in evaluating him since his body of work is so limited.
Vision – I’m not sold on Thomas’s vision after the catch. At his size, he should easily be able to take on the first defender here but instead opts to go for the sideline and gets nothing for his trouble. He’d have been better off turning upfield right away and taking on the first man.
Thomas is an exciting prospect but has an extremely limited resume since he only played two years (one really) at Indiana. He flashed a lot of potential in that time, but it’s hard to justify taking him at his peak potential in the NFL Draft or in Dynasty Rookie Drafts. There is a lot of uncertainty with Thomas. He’s a strong blocker, a high-end athlete, and produced well when on the field at Indiana, so there are a lot of aspects of his profile to like, but the uncertainty makes him no more than a Day 3 pick in my mind.
Outside of the four big names (Dallas Goedert, Mike Gesicki, Mark Andrews, Hayden Hurst), there isn’t a tight end in this class that interests me more, but I’m only willing to take Thomas at the back end of rookie drafts since there is so much uncertainty. He’s a draft-and-stash player for those with Taxi Squads in their leagues. If you’re set at TE, he would be a nice addition to the back end of your roster, but don’t expect him to produce immediately – I’d bet he’s used more a blocker early in his career.