NFL Draft: 11 risers from the 2023 East-West Shrine Bowl

Juice Scruggs (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
Juice Scruggs (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images) /
10 of 11
NFL Draft
Drake Thomas (Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports) /

Drake Thomas, LB, North Carolina State (5-11, 228)

All-star games don’t lend all that well to showcasing running backs and linebackers compared to other positions, but despite that fact, Drake Thomas stood out. The best way for a linebacker to make noise in this setting is to show out in coverage and that’s exactly what the Wolfpack captain did in Vegas.

A heat-seeking missile of a run defender and one of the best blitzing off-ball linebackers in the class, Thomas’ two biggest concerns as a prospect are his size and how he’ll look in coverage at the next level. Well, all week he showcased ridiculous change of direction skills in one-on-one coverage against running backs.

He was the only linebacker who could consistently cover UCLA’s Kazmeir Allen, one of the best athletes at the Shrine, and was step-for-step with him. Thomas’ best play came against Allen where he mirrored him to perfection on a whip route and undercut it for the interception.

Throughout the week Thomas’ take on skills and instincts were flashing in team drills but answering the question about coverage was the biggest thing he could do for his stock. Size remains a concern but he looks like one of the most interesting Day 3 linebacker prospects.