Feb 25, 2013; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Fresno State defensive back Phillip Thomas catches a pass during the NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
With 2012-2013 Offensive Rookie of the Year Robert Griffin III at the helm for what fans can only hope will be a long time and second-leading rusher Alfred Morris in the backfield, the Washington Redskins can only dream about the points their offense in capable of. Where they wake up screaming is when the focus shifts to the secondary that was 30th in the NFL in yards allowed last season with 281.9 per game. Here is where draft prospect Phillip Thomas enters the picture for the Redskins. With the 51st pick of the upcoming NFL Draft, fulfilled needs at most skill positions, and the glaring need of someone to halt opponents’ quarterbacks, free safety Thomas could be just what Washington needs. A top three finalist for the Jim Thorpe Award, given to the top defense back in the nation annually, he recorced a whopping 8 interceptions in the 2012-2013 season. Even more impressive is the 3 defensive touchdowns he was able to convert from those interceptions.
Critics will cite the fact that he hails from Fresno State, a member of the Mountain West Conference. However, last season he faced Oregon and Boise State and led the Bulldogs to the 37th best defense in Division I. Having missed the 2011 season with a broken leg, Thomas has proven maturity and gained an extra year of experience. Coming into the draft at 24, he would be a very solid replacement for former free safety Madieu Williams, a player known for gambling and missing big. With a 40 yard time of 4.58 seconds, a build of 6’1″, 215 pounds, and a 35 inch vertical, Thomas combines athleticism with decision making. Most are ranking him as the third-top free safety available, behind Kenny Vaccaro of Texas and Eric Reid of LSU. With an obvious need at the free safety position and a free agent pool that is short and headed by the aging Ed Reed, the Redskins may not be able to afford to pass up on strong talent early on. Look for Thomas to be their guy.