Cornerback Coming Home

The Dallas Cowboys spent their fifth-round pick — the 143rd overall selection — on Buffalo cornerback Josh Thomas.

Some had projected Thomas to go as high as the third or even the second round in this year's draft, so if he lives up to his potential, the Cowboys will have found a player with very good value for the pick spent to acquire him.

The 5-foot-10-inch, 191-pound Thomas is an aggressive, physical cornerback who plays stronger than he tests (he did just 13 repetitions on the NFL-standard 225-pound bench press while at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis). He is a four-year starter who played in 47 games over four years at Buffalo, starting 24, collecting 205 tackles (including a career-high 58 as a senior), breaking up 27 passes (the fifth-highest mark in school history) and snatching a pair of interceptions.

Thomas is a guy who plays fast. He chases receivers, he occasionally blitzes off the corner and he uses his mid-4.4 speed to throw himself into ball carriers to deliver punishing hits, or into blockers to open up a path for a teammate to get to the ball carrier. His aggressiveness can get him into trouble — he has shown a tendency to bite on double moves — but his relentless style has made him very effective on defense and on special teams while playing at Buffalo.

Thomas isn't going to have much success if he lines up against some of the biggest wide receivers in the NFL, but against smaller slot receivers, he has a chance.

In addition to his pure foot speed, he is one of the more athletic cornerbacks in this year's draft, showing fluid hips as he breaks out of his backpedal to chase receivers and good explosiveness, leaping 38.5 inches in the vertical jump and 10-feet-6 in the broad jump at the NFL Combine.

Joining the Cowboys will be something of a homecoming for Thomas, who played his high school ball in nearby Cedar Hill, Texas, just south of Dallas. He joins a crowded crew of cornerbacks, including Terence Newman, Mike Jenkins, Orlando Scandrick and Bryan McCann.

Newman will turn 33 in September, but remains very effective when healthy, and Jenkins had a subpar 2010 but made the Pro Bowl the year before. Remember, the Cowboys opened the 2010 season with just three cornerbacks on their roster, before bringing back McCann, so it's safe to assume that Thomas will have to beat out at least one of those four to make the roster.

CowboysHQ Top Stories