Party of Five: Bolts Visit With Another RB

SDBoltReport.com continues to monitor the parade of running backs marching through Chargers Park. The Bolts recently enjoyed a private visit with a running back who boasts good size and toughness. This player has drawn comparisons to Larry Johnson, which is both a good and bad thing. Read on to learn whether the Chargers will make him a chief priority on draft day.

Scout.com's Adam Caplan has confirmed the Chargers hosted a private visit with UTEP running back Marcus Thomas (6'0", 213 pounds). Thomas is a powerful runner with the ability to bounce of tacklers and fight for tough yards. Unfortunately, his upright running style leaves him exposed to lots of big hits – a la Larry Johnson – so longevity could be an issue.

That shouldn't be a problem in San Diego, where the top backup running back can expect to log less than 100 touches on the season. In that limited capacity, Thomas would be free to run with reckless abandon.

Thomas is coming off a stellar senior season in which he carried 227 times for 1,116 yards (5.1 avg) and 16 TDs. He also chipped in 20 receptions for 268 yards and two scores. That performance went a long way towards answering the litany of questions raised after Thomas' mediocre junior season, in which he posted a career-low 3.3 yards per carry.

Despite the statistical resurgence, questions remain about Thomas' game. He posted a pedestrian 4.59 in the 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine. That has led scouts question whether he has the explosiveness to get around the corner and make defenders miss.

There are also concerns about Thomas' ability to succeed against teams like the Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers after he did the bulk of his damage against the likes of Southern Methodist and Texas Southern.

But as evidenced by his visit to Chargers Park, these question marks have not scared off the Bolts. A.J. Smith has never been afraid to gamble on small-school prospects, especially late in the draft, and Thomas has the talent to make such a roll of the dice turn up sixes.

The Chargers will make a play for Thomas only if he falls into the undrafted free agent market. It is possible the team could select him in round six or seven if the Bolts are unable to acquire another running back earlier in the draft.

Thomas is at least the fifth runner to enjoy a private visit with the Chargers. Others include Tim Hightower (Richmond), Tashard Choice (Georgia Tech), Matt Forte (Tulane) and Owen Schmitt (West Virginia).

Michael Lombardo is a member of the Pro Football Writers of America and a long-time contributor to the Scout.com network. His analysis has been published by the NFL Network, Fox Sports and MySpace Sports. He has followed the Chargers for more than 15 years and covered the team since 2003.


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