Position: Tight end
Weight: 248 pounds
School: Indiana Hoosiers
Combine Performance Data
40-yard dash: 4.74 seconds (tied for fifth among tight ends)
Vertical jump: 36 inches (third among tight ends)
Broad jump: 10 feet, 3 inches (second among tight ends)
Three-cone drill: 7.15 seconds
20-yard shuttle: 4.20 seconds (second among tight ends)
Ian Thomas 2018 NFL Draft Profile
There might not be a more low-risk, high-reward tight end among this year’s prospects than Ian Thomas. He’s overcome a lot, having lost both his parents by the time he was nine years old. His older brother, himself a teenager at the time and one of nine siblings, legally adopted him afterward. Thomas excelled in football, basketball, and track at Digital Harbor High in the Baltimore area. His favorite Ravens player at the time was running back Terrance West and he wanted to follow in his footsteps by playing collegiately at Towson.
But Thomas didn’t qualify academically, forcing him to go the junior college route. He enrolled at Nassau Community College in Garden City, NY, accounting for 521 receiving yards and five touchdown grabs in his two years there. As a true freshman, his team won a conference title and finished an undefeated 10-0. Despite ranking among the top JuCo tight ends in the country, Indiana was his only Power Five offer. He joined quarterback Richard Lagow as part of the Hoosiers 2016 recruiting class after beginning their football career at junior college level.
It took a year before Thomas made a noticeable impact in Indiana’s offense. Though he appeared in all 13 games as a junior, he accounted for just three catches and 28 receiving yards. The next season, things changed. Thomas led all Hoosier tight ends in receiving yards and added five touchdowns which trailed only fellow Hoosier draft prospect Simmie Cobbs (8) for the team lead. It also accounted for 20 percent of IU’s total touchdowns through the air on the season.
- more than ideal body type for an NFL-level tight end;
- confident pass-catcher with natural, soft hands;
- adjusts to the ball in the air and able to make contested catches in traffic;
- good horizontal separator who gives a nice jab to coverage linebackers to get open;
- plus spatial awareness with the ability to find seams in zone coverage;
- willing blocker able to pull laterally to execute slice and wham blocks;
- sustains and finishes as an in-line blocker with solid base and pad level;
- hit his Combine workout out of the park, a must given his level of experience;
- coaches praise his work ethic and passion for the game.
- takes time to accelerate to full speed when running routes;
- ran a fairly basic route tree and route running as a whole lacks sharpness;
- can get yards after the catch in space but brought down fairly easily on initial contact;
- fairly static when blocking downfield in short pass situations;
- needs some work with respect to refining overall blocking technique;
- a raw prospect who could be looked at as a developmental player by some teams;
- had just a single season of starter reps at major college level.
NFL Comparison: George Kittle
Teams With Need at Position: Atlanta Falcons, Detroit Lions, Jacksonville Jaguars, Miami Dolphins, New York Jets, Seattle Seahawks, Washington Redskins
Projection: Third round
Thomas has a limited sample size of tape to draw from given his lone year of significant production at Indiana. But what’s there is impressive and hints at a possible regular contributor at the next level if he gets in with a coaching staff who can unlock his potential. Thomas sees the field well, is as sure-handed a pass-catcher as they come, finds pockets of space in zone coverage, and is functional as a blocker. He lined up all over the field in 2017, an invaluable part of a tight end’s skill set in today’s game. Though he’s far from a finished product at this point, Thomas has all the makings of a player who can become a regular starter in the right system.