Prospect Profile: DB Earl Thomas

Between now and the start of the 2010 draft on April 22, we'll be profiling some of the prospects who figure to draw the interest of the Dolphins. We start the series with a look at Texas defensive back Earl Thomas.

Thomas decided to enter the NFL draft after his redshirt sophomore season after two sensational years at the University of Texas.

But he made it clear at the scouting combine that his decision wasn't based on the premise that he couldn't accomplish anything more in college.

Rather, Thomas is heading to the pros so he can take care of his family, whose house was destroyed by Hurricane Rita in 2005 — one month after Hurricane Katrina ravaged New Orleans.

In the aftermath of Rita, Thomas and his family lived in a local hotel for a year and his parents have been living with Thomas' grandfather for a while.

"That was one of the biggest reasons for me coming out here," Thomas said. "It was a big family decision and I felt like I was ready for the next level and I'd get to be a great help to the family.I'm going to definitely get them out of my grandparents' house and live in my house. Just surprise them.

"They've been taking care of me all my life and it's just going to feel good to finally take that load off of their shoulders. Take care of them for once."

In addition to some tremendous skills, Thomas also is a high-character prospect. That's something we can't say about many other high-profile players who will enter this draft with some type of baggage.

Thomas was a member of the honor roll in high school, he was part of a rebuilding project following Katrina, and he's an active member of the church where his grandfather is the pastor.

Of course, that's not why Thomas will be a first-round pick and someone the Dolphins certainly would consider with the 12th overall selection.

Thomas is a big-time prospect because of his playmaking skills, which results in eight interceptions last season, including two he returned for touchdowns.

Thomas became a starter at Texas as a redshirt fresman and he went on to earn Freshman All-American honors. Last year, he became a first-team All-American and a finalist for the Jim Thorpe Award as the nation's top defensive back.

At 5-10, 205 pounds, Thomas isn't the biggest safety around, but he's got the type of playmaking ability that has drawn comparisons to longtime Ravens star Ed Reed.

"He's a great player," Thomas said of Reed. "I'm pretty sure he is going to be in the Hall of Fame and that's a great comparison. I think I have a long way to go if I want to compare my game to him, but I thank you for the accolades."

Because of his playmaking ability, Thomas should have the ability to cover the slot in the NFL and maybe even line up at cornerback. That only adds to his value and would make him a great pick for the Dolphins.

"I think of myself as a defensive back playing corner, safety, strong safety or wherever they need me — even in the slot. So wherever they have me I'll play. I'm comfortable at corner, safety, nickel. It really doesn't matter. I'm just a ball player ready to play."

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