He is not a complete tackle as some have portrayed him to be. While Joe is one of the best open field blockers that you will ever see, he struggles with the man up power game on a consistent basis. Part of the problem is lack of lower body strength to drive his opponent off the line of scrimmage. That can and will be corrected in the weight room. It is also an issue most linemen face after recovering from a knee injury. (Joe does appear to be fully recovered from the ACL injury and shows no signs of the injury.)
When you look at Joe he looks more like a 260 lb tight end than a 315 lb offensive tackle. This is one of the signs that let you know, he should get much bigger and stronger. He simply has the frame to play comfortably at 325 lbs and one day becomes a complete tackle.
Joe does have that mean nasty streak that you want to see. Once he locks on his man, he looks to push him off the line, he looks to burry him. You simply can not teach attitude towards run blocking.
What Joe immediately brings to the table is the pure foot speed to protect the quarterback at the NFL level. Most teams have gone to smaller defensive ends and tweener outside linebackers in order to defeat the slow footed tackles that fill the NFL.
Joe Thomas simply has amazing footwork and balance. He can slide and seal the edge as good as any tackle that you will see. If he does get beat, his footwork allows him to recover without giving up the big hit on the quarterback. Combine this with tremendous hand technique and the Browns may have just replaced a glaring hole with a future pro bowl caliber tackle.
Generally what separates tackles at the next level is attitude and work ethic. Joe showed his true love of the game by playing both offensive tackle as well as defensive end in order to help the Badger defense. When a few teams suggested that he may be asked to play right tackle before moving to the left, Joe worked diligently at learning the different technique at the right tackle position.
It may be a case of true homerism but I can't help to be excited with the potential of this offense.
Left Tackle- Joe Thomas
Left Guard - Eric Steinbach
RT - Kevin Shaffer
FB- Lawrence Vickers
For the first time since the Browns return this offensive line may be good enough to not only produce in the running game with a stud back the caliber of Jamal Lewis but also good enough to protect a franchise quarterback. This offense actually looks good on paper without having that one glaring hole that you just know is going to kill the offense.