Thomas didn't participate in any of the workouts at the NFL Scouting Combine, so there is no real way to gauge his athleticism compared to other offensive linemen, other than by what we see on tape. However, as an offensive guard prospect, Thomas looks like he could be the third overall guard taken in the draft.
He played left tackle during his first two years for the Volunteers before moving inside to guard, where he excelled. The complicated question with Thomas: is he an offensive tackle or a guard? Based on his 2012 film, if the Bears drafted him to be their starting left guard, they could wind up with very good value.
Arms: 33 1/8 inches
Hands: 10 3/8 inches
Combine40-yard dash: DNP
Bench Press: DNP
Vertical Jump: DNP
Broad Jump: DNP
3-cone drill: DNP
20-yard shuttle: DNP
Thomas is naturally athletic and equally powerful for the position. He has good agility and balance, likely a product if his time at tackle. He uses strong hands and a solid base to anchor in pass protection. He can also latch onto players at the point of the attack and drive them out of the hole and into the ground.
A very physical prospect, Thomas can play in outside zone scheme that dabble in the power run game, or he can play the inside zone and scrape to the second level to hit linebackers. Thomas is a better athlete than Kentucky's Larry Warford and is nearly as powerful a blocker. On film, what separates him from Warford is his athletic ability. He plays with good pad level and bend, and uses his hands well to punch through the defender. Thomas has added versatility as an offensive tackle, which makes him a solid second-day option.
Thomas is not as natural a guard prospect as some of the top players in this draft. At times he gets caught out of position and players can beat him with a simple swim move. He has a tendency to get out in front of his body and can end up off balance and pushed down to the ground.
As an offensive guard, Thomas is easily one of the better prospects in this draft. There really aren't a lot of negatives to his game, when playing guard, so if a team drafts him as an interior lineman, they will likely get very good value.
That said, if a team projects him as an offensive tackle, which he played and did so fairly well at Tennessee, then he doesn't have the same value. Thomas doesn't have the natural foot speed to handle speed rushers off the edge.
Bottom line: Thomas is going to be a very good offensive guard in the NFL. His upside isn't as high at tackle but he does have experience on the edge. Offensive tackles are more valuable than guards and with his experience there a team could very well try to groom him at that position. As an offensive guard I'd grade him equal to Warford, perhaps a bit better because he's a far better athlete.
Brett Solesky has worked in TV, newspapers and, for the last seven years, in radio. He also co-hosts the best Chicago Bears podcast on the Web, Bear Report Radio, which appears on BearReport.com and his blog MidwayIllustrated.com.