When it comes to Georgia Tech, there is a lot of focus on their offensive being unconventional because they run the Triple Option, but their defense is unorthodox as well. Take Jamea Thomas, their talented defensive back. Over the course of his career, he has played corner, safety, in the slot, and in the box. He has an incredible amount of physical talent and there seems to be a significant amount of potential to what he can be, but he ends up being a jack-of-all-trades and master of none.
Thomas is a physical presence who is not afraid to go hit the opponent, can fly all over the field with his speed, can make a significant impact on special teams, and can make some impressive plays to intercept passes but a team could draft him to play corner or safety and neither would make them wrong, because as talented as he is, Thomas still seems unpolished and has not found a real home positionwise. Nevertheless, Thomas is such an intriguing player because of how much he can do for a team and there is unrealized potential that could result in him becoming a big time player in the NFL, so he may end up going right around the fringes of the top 100 in the 2014 NFL Draft.
Vitals & Build
Thomas is listed at 5’10” 195lbs with an impressive build. He shows pretty good strength but his speed and explosiveness jumps off the tape. Thomas just seems able to fly all over the field and it takes him a few quick steps to get to full speed. His body control is impressive and there is so much to like about him physically. Thomas looks ready to go in the NFL right now, but he will work to continue refining his body and may get to the 200lb mark before all is said and done.
At times, his technique can be sloppy and he will leave his feet too much, but Thomas can make impact tackles and really get a good hit on opponents. He is not afraid and will be aggressive and look to make an impact. Thomas will wrap up and use his speed to create momentum and allow himself to hit opponents with force. At times, he will play too high and fail to break down, but for the most part, he is able to close distance and make a good tackle. And with his speed, he can track down opponents from almost anywhere and bring them to the ground without just trying to trip them.
Thomas is active and is looking to make a play as opposed to wait for one to come to him. Whether he is reading the play from the back end or corner or coming on the blitz, he will go to the ball carrier and look to make a hit. He is not afraid to take on blocks, can do a decent job of beating them and making plays. Thomas is a player who can make an impact play and get a key tackle for loss on a back in the backfield and is someone offenses have to account for in their play calling.
Thomas has experience playing up in the opponent’s face as well as in off man coverage from a number of different angles. Athletically, he has the ability to turn and run with opponents, is not afraid to jam opponents or hit people who cross his face with power. Thomas is at his best when he can just run vertical routes with an opponent as he can just use his speed to fly down the field and run the route for them.
Because of the way he has been moved around, he does not seem to be overly polished at any one spot in coverage, so he could legitimately play corner in the NFL and do well, but he needs time to just focus on that spot. In situations when receivers are making cuts, Thomas can have trouble mirroring them and opts to play on the conservative side, willing to give up underneath routes where he can go up and make a tackle.
Thomas does seem to be able to establish position and track the ball running down the field and has shown to be able to make a play on it. With continued development and focus, he could be a good player at corner.
He can also cover from the safety spot and cover from off or the slot, but again, is not overly polished and leaves plays out there. His height is not ideal for dealing with tight ends but he is not afraid compete physically and has a good vertical to go up and compete for the ball. Thomas does have the speed and strength to run with slot receivers and muscle them out of plays.
Thomas can play in zone and his speed gives him incredible range, especially if he is playing safety and scanning the field from over the top. He has experience playing facing the line of scrimmage and is able to help in that area. His skill set would suggest he might be better off in man, but he could also be a real asset on the deep end of the field protecting over the top as a center fielding type of safety. Thomas has shown he has the speed to come up and make plays from that spot against the run and is not afraid to go up and compete for the football.
Thomas’s ball skills are intriguing because he does display some natural ability when it comes to catching the football. He seems to track it well and is able to locate it when he has to turn around and find it. Thomas has made some remarkable plays in coverage and is able to use his body to shield out the opponent even though he is giving up size to most opponents.
Blitzing off the Edge
Not only does Thomas have a ton of experience in this area, but he has shown he is extremely dangerous. He does a good job of disguising blitzes and being able to come off of a man coverage look and setting up the blitz without the opposing quarterback seeing him. He gets off of the line like he is running track and explodes up the field. If not accounted for, he is going to hit the quarterback and hit him extremely hard. Thomas is not fazed by taking on blockers and can make opponents miss or slip blocks on his way. If he blitzes on a play that runs toward him or up the middle, he may stop it before it starts. For all of the things that Thomas can do reasonably well, he is extremely effective here whether from a corner or safety spot.
This could be the spot where Thomas makes the most immediate impact. Thomas’s speed and aggressiveness makes him great as a gunner as well as on kick coverage. He has also shown with his explosiveness, he is a threat to block kicks off of the edge and is able to bend and leap to try to get in the way. Thomas has not been able to block a kick in his career for the Yellow Jackets but he has come close on a number of occasions.
Thomas can play in any system because he has so much experience doing so many things. He might be more attractive to teams that run man systems because of his raw speed, strength, and fluidity on the edge. Still, he could end up in a zone scheme or perhaps as a safety.
His initial spot in the league could be on nickel which would basically allow him to do everything he did at Georgia Tech. It would allow him to play in coverage, but he could blitz and be in position to make a nice contribution against the run. If he stays at corner, he could end up playing on the strong side because of how much of an impact he can make there.
Thomas is similar to J.J. Wilcox of the Dallas Cowboys. Wilcox was a wide receiver at Georgia Southern before moving to safety in his last year. Athletically incredible, Wilcox showed a great deal of potential but was extremely raw. Wilcox was able to showcase his talents in the All-Star circuit and was able to be a third round pick to the Cowboys. Thomas is not quite as big as Wilcox, but his athleticism is incredible in its own right and while he has moved around on the Tech defense, all of his experience is in the secondary.
Thomas is an extremely intriguing prospect because he can do so many things including run and hit. He is a willing run defender who can put hits on opposing ball carriers and make plays on the football, but has been moved around so much, it is unclear where his best position is in the NFL. Thomas could legitimately be groomed to play corner or safety and do well at both. His earliest contribution might come on special teams and on nickel, but there is certainly a great deal to like about him. He is likely going to be invited to a Post-Season All Star Game and it will be interesting to see where he is placed in that format as it might be an indication of where teams are looking at him to play the most, which is probably going to be as a corner. Even if Thomas was listed as an athlete in the upcoming NFL Draft, the amount he brings to the table, even if there is some element of him being a project is worth taking right around the top 100 area of the NFL Draft.
Some of the film used in this scouting breakdown was provided by the good folks at draftbreakdown.com