How small is too small to play running back in the NFL?
I’ve always subscribed to the theory that if a player is good enough, he’s big enough, but many talent evaluators do not share my belief.
Upon his arrival to the NFL Combine, the diminutive De’Anthony Thomas has been peppered with questions regarding his size and how he envisions being utilized at the next level. At 5 – foot – 9, 174 pounds, there have been players his size who achieved success in the NFL at the running back position, but they have been far and few in between.
When asked how NFL teams view him as he makes the transition to the NFL, Thomas said, “Right now they see me as a wide receiver and return guy.”
Watching Thomas at length, it’s plain to see that he has exceptional vision as a running back. I expressed that I thought it would be a shame if he didn’t get an opportunity to play running back at the next level. Thomas said,
“I can be successful at running back in the NFL. Just line me up anywhere and let me make plays and contribute to the team.”
When asked about how he was utilized at Oregon and what the “tazer” position entailed, he said, “Pretty much it’s getting mismatches on linebackers and being out there as a playmaker and I had a big role to play and my position was just to contribute and just be a role-model to my teammates.”
Sensing that many merely want to label him as a running back or a wide receiver Thomas said, “I can play running back, I can play wide receiver, letting me do both would be the best way to utilize me.”
Thomas wanted to make sure it was understood that he is in fact an every-down player.
“I believe I’m an every-down player,” he said. “I can lineup at running back and wide receiver on any given down.”
When compared to DeSean Jackson, Thomas said, “He plays receiver and I can play receiver, but I’m a different style. I can line up at running back and that makes us different.”
While discussing possible landing spots, Thomas didn’t deny that a reunion with Chip Kelly would be ideal. Reflecting on one-on-one meetings he had with his former coach, Thomas conveyed that he’s learned a lot from Kelly. Realizing all of what Thomas has to offer, it is very likely that Kelly spends a draft pick to acquire him.
Thomas compared the Eagles offense to Oregon’s and said, “The only thing different is the terminology. I’m a visual learner so I feel as though I could learn it all pretty fast. It would be a blessing if Chip picked me up because I would be great in that offense and I feel like I could contribute to that team.”
Thomas later confirmed that he would be speaking with the Eagles.
When asked who he might compare his game to, he said, “I think if you look at guys like Tavon Austin, guys that can make great cuts, great decisions and change the game.”
Blessed with outstanding speed Thomas wouldn’t give an estimate on what he might run in the 40-yard dash, however he did run 10.3 in the 100-meter dash last outdoor track season. Expect him to run in the 4.3 range in the 40.
If we can take anything away from the sit down with De’Anthony Thomas, it’s that he’s extremely talented, very versatile and simply wants to do it all.
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