2004 Draft Prospect Interview: Dontarrious Thomas

His Auburn teammate provided a little buzz with his no call, no show tactics at the Senior Bowl. Yet, playing for the south squad, Dontarrious Thomas was concerned with his play and his play alone for the week. With plenty of teams looking for linebacker help, Thomas solidified his position as a high end pick in the 2004 NFL Draft and has the potential to play on the inside or outside.

With the season ended, the versatile defender has set his mind to preparing for the upcoming combines in Indianapolis. Having played outside and inside linebacker in college, Dontarrious Thomas is thankful he got the chance to move inside as a senior.

"It shows that I am a versatile linebacker. I can play either position on the field. I would say it helped me out. It showed me some things about being on the inside. It showed me a key understanding on how to read the offensive line more and do different things."

Certain teams will have their preference on where he will play in the NFL and part of that process began with his Senior Bowl stint. Thomas played both positions and showed some sideline-to-sideline speed that NFL teams crave.

Learning from NFL coaches, specifically Marty Schottenheimer who coached the south squad, Thomas was able to pick up lessons on and off the football field.

"It was a good experience for me," Thomas said. "I really enjoyed working with those guys, especially my linebackers' coach (Greg Manusky), he taught me a lot. It was just a good staff. They put us in key situations and told us some inside things in the NFL. Coach Schottenheimer told us, ‘no matter where you get drafted, the thing is it matters how you finish. It doesn't matter how you started, but what is most important is how you finish.'

"He was giving us examples of guys who were drafted late, but that second contract they played well and some big things happened so it was key insight. It was just a nice experience for us."

It was an interesting experience to work with an NFL camp and get a taste of what it will be like in the offseason, but Thomas tempered the enthusiasm with a dose of reality, "They can only do so much at those, but it was a good time for us to showcase our talent and they allowed us to do our thing and impress the scouts."

So did he do well?

"I hurt my hamstring. Hopefully I did well. You can never tell with those guys."

Several scouts remarked on his imposing stature at the combines, evident early on in 2003 when he won the Tigers' Off-Season Conditioning Award.

Thomas counts his imposing stature among his best attributes.

"I pride myself on being a physical player, taking on blockers going downhill. Reading the offense I pick up on things pretty well and just a smart football player."

He has heard the remarks that his frame can take on a few more pounds and Thomas is heeding the call.

His plan is to gain weight and come in at 245 instead of his 235 playing weight. Considering he came to the Senior Bowl at 235, Thomas has some work to do. Right now, he has added a few pounds in pursuit of his goal and wants to maintain his athleticism through the process.

"That is why you work out. If you do the drills and eat properly, just don't put on bad weight. You put on the good weight and muscle and it shouldn't decrease your speed. It hasn't so far. I don't think I will lose my speed."

Thomas ended his Auburn career with 346 tackles, 28.5 for a loss and 15 passes defensed. He showed he could stop the run and defend the pass equally well during his career, but with the more chances to put his show on, Thomas is not resting.

Speed is part of his game and something he isn't concerned about. Thomas, instead, wants to put to rest any misconceptions about how strong he is while working on the rest of his game.

"I want to make sure I do a decent bench press. Basically we are working on the total package. Making sure your body is in shape and having a good frame."

Based on winning an award for his conditioning in '03 and the Senior Bowl reaction from scouts, Thomas won't have much too worry about in his pursuit of the dream.

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