Player Spotlight: Clemson EDGE Xavier Thomas

TaxSlayer Gator Bowl - Clemson v Kentucky
TaxSlayer Gator Bowl - Clemson v Kentucky / James Gilbert/GettyImages

College - Clemson

Age (At Draft Day) - 24

Position - EDGE

Height/Weight- 6'2'', 244lbs

40-Yard Dash - 4.62 seconds


Xavier Thomas arrived at Clemson as a highly-touted recruit, earning a 5-star ranking from most major scouting services, including 247 Sports. He quickly emerged as a contributor, appearing in 14 games as a freshman and racking up 3.5 sacks, and adding a ton of QB pressures. However, his career has been marred by illnesses, injuries and inconsistency. He battled through injuries his junior year, limiting him to just five games. Finally healthy as a senior, Thomas bounced back with his most productive season, recording 4 sacks and 3 tackles for loss. Despite the flashes of brilliance, he hasn't lived up to his 5-star status.


Elite Explosiveness Off the Edge: Thomas possesses exceptional speed and agility for his size. His 4.62 40-yard dash time is amongst the best for edge rushers in this draft class. This explosiveness allows him to win the snap battle consistently and quickly threaten the outside edge of the offensive line.

Elite Bend at the Top of the Rush: In addition to his straight-line speed, Thomas displays impressive bend when rushing the passer. He can dip his hips and corner the edge with fluidity, making it difficult for bigger tackles to stay square with him. This allows him to get underneath blockers and consistently create pressure on the quarterback when he is on the field.

Speed to Power: While not the biggest edge rusher, Thomas plays with surprising power. He can convert his speed into force at the point of attack, collapsing the pocket and disrupting plays in the backfield.

Sideline-to-Sideline Speed and Range: His rare athleticism translates well in run defense on outside runs. Thomas has the speed to chase down plays outside the tackle box and set the edge effectively.


Missed a Ton of Games: Durability is a major concern for Thomas. He has missed significant time due to injuries throughout his college career. This lack of availability raises questions about his ability to stay healthy at the professional level.

Never Posted Great Production: Despite his physical tools, Thomas has never been a dominant pass rusher statistically. His career-high in sacks is just 6. Scouts will be looking for more consistent production to justify a high draft pick.

Small Frame: At 6-foot-2 and 244 pounds, Thomas is on the smaller side for an edge rusher in the NFL. This size could limit his effectiveness against bigger offensive tackles, particularly in run defense.

Raw Player: While he possesses impressive physical tools, Thomas is still a very raw prospect. He needs refinement in his technique as a run defender and overall approach to the game.

NFL Comparison - Nick Herbig

Nick Herbig
Pittsburgh Steelers v Seattle Seahawks / Conor Courtney/GettyImages

A player similar to Thomas coming out of college is Nick Herbig from Wisconsin. Both possess size and play styles. They win with their explosiveness off the edge, bend at the top of the rush, and ability to convert speed to power. However, coming out of college, Herbig had a more productive track record than Thomas. Neither player is one that you would feel great about playing as a full-time starter, due to their size and questions about their overall run defense.

NFL Draft Outlook - Day 3 Pick

Xavier Thomas is a talented player with intriguing physical tools. However, his lack of production, injury history, and smallish frame are major red flags for NFL teams. He is likely to be a day 3 pick, and his success at the professional level will depend on his ability to stay healthy, refine his technique, and develop into a more consistent pass rusher.