Profile: Nick Thomas
Location: Bradenton (Fla.) IMG Academy
What to like: There's a lot to like about Thomas. He has a good, long frame and good football speed, especially between the tackles.
Thomas plays with good instincts, awareness and anticipation. Thomas is a good downhill player who can make a lot of tackles in the tackle box. He's tough, can take on blockers and then go find the ball. He's physical and a sound tackler.
I also like the way he can play inside-out. He can transition pretty quickly from the middle of the defense and attack the perimeter. Thomas shows he can make plays in space, whether it's in coverage or in pursuit. While he's not a blazer, he can make plays on the sideline.
What may be of concern: My first concern is his size and what position does he transition best at? I believe he has the athletic ability and versatility to play strong safety, weak-side linebacker and inside linebacker. But I think he's too small, at least now, to be a major contributor in the middle of the Badger defense. A red-shirt season would greatly benefit him and in his physical development.
Does he have the top end speed to play in the secondary? Maybe early in his career. But I think he ultimately grows into a ‘backer.
Overall analysis: This is a nice find for Wisconsin. I think in due time he can develop into a productive player, most likely at linebacker. Thomas led IMG last season with 106 tackles roaming the inside. But I think with his combination of skills regarding his play in coverage and against the run, he's best suited on the weak-side.
With the emergence of IMG Academy, it's big for Wisconsin to land a player from this boarding school. They are only in year two of their football program but attracting some very good players from around the country. Certainly the Badgers will want to sign their share. Landing Thomas gets their foot in the door.