With the 100th overall pick of the 2014 NFL Draft the 49ers selected offensive lineman Brandon Thomas from Clemson University. Thomas's stock was rising quickly after an impressive performance at the combine in February. Some had him as a possible late first to early second round selection. Then the unfortunate happened. Thomas tore his ACL in April while working out for the Saints. The 49ers used three of their 12 total picks on players recovering from torn ACLs (Thomas, CB Keith Reaser, and FB Trey Millard). That's five total in the last two drafts (Tank Carradine and Marcus Lattimore in 2013)
Weight: 317 lbs
Arm Length: 34 3/4"
Hands: 10 1/2"
40 yard dash: 5.09
Bench: 35 reps
Vertical Jump: 29"
Broad Jump: 98"
- Fits the mold. Thomas has good size and excellent arm length that allow him keep defenders at bay. Earned 1st team All-ACC honors in 2012 and 2013.
- Efficient blocker with "heavy hands". Thomas has quick and strong hands with an effective initial punch.
- Thomas' above average quickness and awareness in space allowed him to be successful getting to the second level. Many of his initial reads in the run game called for him to seal a linebacker at the second level to which he was quite successful.
- Experience at both tackle positions and left guard where I think he projects best.
- Despite impressive combine numbers, Thomas doesn't appear to have the athleticism necessary to play LT consistently at a high level.
- Plays too high at times causing him to bend too much at the hips instead of the knees.
- Second ACL injury since 2008. Will miss entire 2014 season.
- Seems to lack the lower body strength to consistently drive through defenders in the run game.
- Footwork and hand placement need some work. But success at the Senior Bowl in January suggests Thomas takes well to coaching.
Doing your homework:
It's rare that you show a Jadeveon Clowney tape to praise an offensive lineman. But Brandon Thomas more than holds his own against the eventual number one overall pick in his 2013 tape courtesy of DraftBreakdown.com. Notice Thomas is rarely given any help when faced with one-on-one situations with Clowney. Clowney did register two sacks but one was hardly Thomas' fault. He won more than his fair share.
What others are saying:
"He will be on PUP list all year long; like a redshirt year. And like Marcus Lattimore last year, a luxury pick for San Francisco." -- Mike Mayock NFL Network
Bill Williamson of ESPN.com says: "He was expected to go in the second round before his injury, so there is a reward factor with this risk."
Considering the salary left guard Mike Iupati will command next off-season, it seems likely the 49ers will turn to Thomas to fill that role. Thomas will likely need to bulk up about 15 pounds and he certainly has the frame to do so. He'll benefit from a year in the classroom and will be well prepared once he's medically cleared to begin practicing. The 49ers have done well in the past moving the offensive linemen around and cross training them in case of emergencies. Thomas fits that mold perfectly and could prove to be a steal, even as a third rounder.