Phillip Thomas was rated as a top-5 safety heading into to the NFL Combine by some, but his stock took a considerable hit on Tuesday when the defensive backs took part in the annual event.
A sub-par 40-yard dash time and a possible injury may have pushed Thomas' stock south, though he will have a chance to make up for it in just over a week at the March 8 Pro Day for Syracuse.
Thomas measured in at 5-foot-11, 198 pounds – about 10 pounds heavier than his playing days at SU. Thomas has 31 1/8" arms & 10 1/2" hands, good for his position in comparison to his peers. He notched 14 reps of 225 pounds on the bench press, better than nine of 46 total participants in the defensive backfield. Thomas also notched 10-feet, two inches on the broad jump and 33 inches on the vertical jump, both solid marks once others are considered.
Then it was time for the 40-yard dash, and it was an up-and-down process for the versatile and now-heavier safety.
Thomas clocked an unofficial 4.72-second run in his first attempt, but he stumbled out of his stance and may have tweaked his left ankle/foot. The second go-round appeared to be much better. He clocked a 4.59 mark unofficially, though he slipped once again. Had that unofficial time held up, along with the other unofficial times, Thomas would have gone from tied for last to besting 10 of 52 other DBs in attendance?
Then the official mark came through the wire. 4.74.
With a need to get better in a hurry, Thomas did his best to make up ground during the on-the-field drills. He began by doing a decent job on the initial pair of drills, but his hips were a bit of an issue. Then he began another back-pedal and stopped because of what looked like pain in his now-taped ankle. He did, however, continue to excel with the ball in the air and as an accelerator, as expected. Thomas' change of direction and continued speedy pedal later in the day was where it should have been and helped to somewhat salvage the afternoon.
Phillip Thomas needed a solid day to be considered a middle-round possibility, but he hurt his chances in the speed department. Although he was much better during drills, catching every ball in sight, speed is the first attribute desired in an NFL defensive back especially with the game expanding into a pass-first game. Thomas showed good agility and ball skills to combat the lack of speed, but his hip-turns weren't on par. This means that he is to be considered a safety going forward, which is not a huge surprise though there were some rumblings about Thomas playing a bit of corner at the next level.
March 8 will be enormous for Thomas, as he and his former Syracuse teammates will take part in the program's Pro Day. Teams will certainly ask him to run the 40 again, while wondering if the weight he put on ultimately held him back. That will all come before organizations delve into his suspension more and more as Draft Day nears.