Could The Stanford Prospect Work In The Lions’ Defense?
Stanford’s Solomon Thomas is a solid all-around defensive end. He can win battles with power or quickness. At 6’3 and 273 lbs he has a sturdy frame. However, he doesn’t have the length that some other defensive ends have.
Thomas is only a redshirt sophomore, so he only has two years of playing experience under his belt. In 2015 as a redshirt freshmen, he racked up three and a half sacks and 10.5 tackles for loss. Last season was more successful, he increased his production to eight and a half sacks and 14 tackles for loss.
Also in 2016, Thomas earned all-Pac-12 first team honors. The Stanford stand-out performed well in his teams bowl game against North Carolina. His performance led to him being named the Sun Bowl MVP. In that game he totaled seven tackles, one sack and two tackles for loss. Mitch Trubisky, North Carolina’s quarterback, was forced to move around the pocket often to avoid Thomas.
One thing that stands out about Thomas is versatility. He lines up on the outside and inside and can make plays from either spot.
NFL teams will love his ability to get into the backfield. Whether he’s surprising opposing blockers with his quickness or simply overwhelming them with strength, he usually ends up behind the line of scrimmage.
As far as pass rush moves, he often uses a bull rush and overpowers blockers. Swim moves and spin moves are mixed in and used pretty effectively as well. When he’s rushing from the interior he often simply beats linemen to the gaps with quickness of the snap.
Although he doesn’t have elite length, he uses his hands well. He possesses a powerful punch and is able to quickly disengage from blockers. Generally, he is solid against the run as well. Occasionally, he plays with his pad-level too high which makes it easier for offensive linemen to move him. That’s something that can be fixed.
Another positive for Thomas is that he plays with awareness. He’s able to identify screen plays and stop them before they get started. He also has a relentless motor.
Some scouts view Thomas as a tweener. He doesn’t have the length that most edge rusher have yet he is not quite big enough to consistently hold up on the interior. This will make some teams nervous since they may not know where to play him.
Another negative about Thomas is that he was flagged for being offside seven times in 2016. Obviously that is much too often and something he will need to fix.
The Lions could certainly use someone like Thomas as there wasn’t much production from defensive ends this season. Although the hope is that Ziggy Ansah will be more productive next season, adding another productive player certainly wouldn’t hurt.
Solomon Thomas would be an upgrade over starting defensive end Devin Taylor, who is a free agent and not guaranteed to even be on the team next year. Adding difference makers to the defense would help take the unit to the next level. Last season, the Lions were tied for 30th in the NFL in sacks so finding guys to get after quarterbacks will likely be a priority for the front office.