All-American OLB Thomas Signs with Packers

Chase Thomas, who had a monster career at Stanford, signed a futures deal with the Packers on Tuesday. Here is his story from the NFL Draft Report.

The Green Bay Packers announced on Tuesday that they had signed Chase Thomas to a futures contract (along with practice-squad holdovers T Aaron Adams, CB Antonio Dennard, C Garth Gerhart, WR Alex Gillett, RB Orwin Smith, and G Andrew Tiller, plus T Jeremy Vujnovich, who spent the 2013 rookie camp with the Packers on a tryout basis). The big name was Thomas, who considered joining the Packers after the draft but signed with New Orleans, instead, a source said at the time. Thomas posted big-time production as an outside linebacker in Stanford's 3-4 scheme, but his athletic limitations showed at the Senior Bowl and Scouting Combine.

The following is his information from the NFL Draft Report.


While much of the attention accorded Stanford football in the last few years brought their offensive unit to national prominence under the guidance of former head coach Jim Harbaugh and the 2012 NFL Draft's first overall selection, quarterback, Andrew Luck, the Cardinal defense was quietly molded into a highly effective unit. Much of their success in stopping the opponents' running attack can be linked to the staff's decision to insert Thomas into the starting lineup at strong-side outside linebacker.

During Thomas' freshman campaign, the weak-side defensive end earned his "baptism under fire", as the Cardinal ranked 55th in the nation vs. the run (137.92 ypg). After moving to linebacker as a sophomore, the same unit would finish 19th in the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision ranks in containing the opposition's ground attack (120.85 ypg). As a junior, Thomas led the Pac-12 Conference in tackles-for-loss (17.5), as the Cardinal run defense finished third in the nation, yielding 84.38 yards per game.

That stellar performance continued during the 2012 season, as Stanford boasted the nation's fifth-best run defense unit, surrendering just 97.00 yards per game. The senior defensive co-captain started his last 47 games for the Cardinal, including 33 at linebacker in Stanford's 3-4 scheme. Among active FBS players, he stands third tackles-for-loss (56.0, equaling Khalil Mack of Buffalo and Roosevelt Nix of Kent State), the fourth-best figure in school history.

The team captain's tackle-for-loss yardage of 252 also ranked third among active players, surpassed by Nix (271 yards) and Mack (258). Thomas has been a constant problem for opposing quarterback, totaling 27.5 sacks, third-best among active FBS performers, as that figure ranks third in school history. His sack-lost-yardage figure of 204 paces the nation's active players. He is also tied for ninth (with Georgia's Jarvis Jones) among current player with nine caused fumbles.

Thomas' impact in run force allowed the Cardinal to rank second in the nation in tackles-for-loss in 2012 (8.86 pg). That same unit finished 108th nationally during his first season at Stanford (4.46 pg), improving to 75th during his first campaign as a linebacker (5.46 pg) and 28th during his stellar junior season (6.85 pg). His relentless pressure on the pocket also aided the Cardinal, as the defensive squad led the nation in sacks, recording 4.07 quarterback "drops" per game.

Opposing offensive coordinators should have known to gear their rushing unit far away from Thomas' territory. He made 168 stops vs. the run, limiting those ball carriers to minus 11 yards (-0.065 ypc), just three first downs and no scores vs. the talented linebacker. He delivered 23 third-down stops, six more on fourth-down, 59 tackles-for-loss (solos and assists), four touchdown-saving tackles and stopped 37 runners at the line of scrimmage for no gain. Forty-two of his tackles came inside the red zone, including twelve on goal-line plays.

While Thomas is known for his dominance vs. the ground game, he is also highly efficient in pass coverage. Opposing quarterbacks have dared to attempt 134 passes into his area during his 52-game career. They completed just 16.42% of those throws (22), for 130 yards, an average of 5.91 yards per completion and a miniscule 0.97 yards per attempt.

Against the running game, Thomas has made 47 of his stops on third-down plays, eight others on fourth-down and jammed or rerouted receivers away from 71 throws, in addition to producing a pair of touchdown-saving tackles vs. the aerial game. In limited action on special teams, he posted five tackles and blocked a punt for the coverage squad.

Prior to arriving at Stanford in 2008, Thomas was a standout defensive end and tight end for Walton High School Raiders head coach Ed Dudley. He placed 26th on the Rivals.com Georgia Top 50 squad, as that recruiting service ranked him 27th in the nation among prep outside linebackers. ESPN.com regarded him as the 18th-best defensive end in the country and Scout.com ranked him 81st at defensive end and 99th at tight end.

Thomas would go on to set the school career-record with 37.0 quarterback sacks. As a sophomore, he registered 83 tackles with ten sacks, ten more stops behind the line of scrimmage and a fumble recovery for a unit that compiled a 7-5 record. The following season, he led the Raiders with 82 tackles, posting another ten sacks, along with fourteen stops-for-loss and a fumble recovery, as the team struggled to a 5-6 record.

Thomas, who also competed for the Walton High School lacrosse team, decided to give up that sport and concentrate strictly on football during his final season in 2007. The Georgia High School Association had Walton lacrosse games monitored to make sure Thomas didn't get out of hand. "Chase was just too violent," Walton head coach Rocky Hidalgo recalled. "He's as mean as a snake. He's going to hit you as hard as he can."

The Prep Star All-Southeast Region choice as a senior, Thomas added Super Prep All-State accolades, as he guided the Raiders to the 6A-AAAAA championship and a berth in the state semi-finals behind a 12-2 record, finishing 13th in the state. He also received first- team All-State honors from the Georgia Sports Writers Association and was named the Cobb County Defensive Player of the Year. He went on to establish a school season-record with seventeen sacks while recording 84 tackles.

From 210 pounds in 2008, when he redshirted, Thomas grew into a 243-pound down lineman during his first season lettering with the varsity in 2009. He played behind Eric Lorig during the first half of the schedule, taking over when the weak-side defensive end was injured to start the final eight contests. He recorded 36 tackles (20 solos), ranking second on the squad with four sacks and 8.5 stops behind the line of scrimmage. He caused two fumbles and blocked one kick.

While his teammates were allowing 137.92 yards per game to opposing ball carriers, Thomas made 35 plays vs. the ground game, holding those runners to minus one yard. He was named to the All-Pac 10 Conference Freshman squad and received second-team Freshman All-American recognition from College Football News.

As a sophomore, Thomas was shifted to strong-side outside linebacker in the Cardinal's newly instituted 3-4 defensive alignment, as he switched from jersey #93 that he wore as a defensive end to #44 for the balance of his Stanford career. The rush defense drastically improved behind their new linebacker unit leader, ranking second in the league and 19th in the nation, allowing just 120.85 yards per game on the ground.

Thomas was named All-Pac 10 Conference honorable mention, finishing second on the team with 70 tackles (49 soloS0, along with leading the squad with 7.5 sacks and 11.5 stops-for-loss, in addition to delivering eight pressures. He recorded a total of 23 third-down plays, along with five more on fourth-down action, taking down ball carriers at the line of scrimmage for no gain a conference-best fourteen times in 2010.

As a junior, Thomas returned to All-American status, in addition to being selected All-Pac 12 Conference first-team. He cracked the school's "Top 10" season-record list with 17.5 stops-for-loss, which led the league in 2011. He recorded 52 tackles (33 solos) and tied for second in the Pac-12 with a team-high 8.5 sacks. He also finished second in the league and tenth nationally with five forced fumbles.

The All-Pac 12 Conference first-team selection and defensive captain continued to deliver relentless pressure on opposing backfields. He finished second on the team with 71 tackles, recording 7.5 sacks with 14.5 stops behind the line of scrimmage. He had two fumble recovered, caused another fumble and deflected four passes while picking off another. He also led a unit that led the league and ranked 11th in scoring defense (17.21 ppg), as the Cardinal yielded just 336.21 yards per game, also leading the Pac-12.

CAREER NOTES

Thomas appeared in 52 games at Stanford, starting 47 contests – eight at weak-side defensive end (wore jersey #93) and 39 at strong-side outside linebacker (switched to jersey #44)…Recorded 229 tackles (145 solos) with 27.5 sacks for minus 204 yards, 50.5 stops for losses totaling 252 yards and 21 quarterback pressures…Caused nine fumbles and recovered four others, including one in the end zone for a touchdown…Intercepted two passes and deflected eight others…His 27.5 sacks rank third on the school career-record list behind Riall Johnson (35.0; 1997-2000) and Ron George (33.0; 1990-92)…His sack-lost yardage total of 204 yards led the nation's active performers…Also ranks fourth on the school all-time record chart with his 50.5 tackles-for-loss, surpassed by just Ron George (61.0), Duncan McColl (57.0; 1974-76) and Riall Johnson (52.0)…His 17.5 tackles-for-loss in 2011 rank tenth on the school season-record chart…Tied for ninth in the nation among active players with nine forced fumbles…Made 168 plays vs. the running game, as those ball carriers have been held to minus 11 yards (-0.065 ypc), recording just three first downs and failing to score on any of those attempts, as Thomas delivered four touch-down saving tackles, 23 third-down stops and six more on fourth-down plays, in addition to tackling runners at the line of scrimmage for no gain 37 times vs. the rushing attack… Registered 42 stops inside the red zone, including twelve on goal-line plays...Had 134 pass plays targeted into his territory, as the opposition caught 22 of those tosses for 130 yards (16.42%), an average of 5.91 yards per completion and 0.97 yards per pass attempt…Made 47 third-down plays, eight more on fourth-down, in addition to coming up with two touch-down-saving tackles and two more hits that brought down receivers for no gain vs. the aerial game…Rerouted or jammed his pass coverage assignment on 71 of those 134 throws (52.99%)…Also recorded five tackles for the special teams coverage units, as he blocked one punt vs. California in 2009.

AGILITY TESTS

4.91 in the 40-yard dash…1.75 10-yard dash…2.76 20-yard dash…4.31 20-yard shuttle… 11.88 60-yard shuttle…7.17 three-cone drill…32-inch vertical jump…9'4" broad jump… Bench pressed 225 pounds 18 times…31 3/8-inch arm length…9 ½-inch hands…75 5/8-inch wing-span.


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