De'Anthony Thomas, RB

School: Oregon  |  Conference: PAC12
College Experience: Junior  |  Hometown: Los Angeles, CA
Height/Weight: 5-9 / 174 lbs.
Projected Ranking
OverallPositionProj. Rnd.

Player Lowdown

Combine Results
40 Yd 20 Yd 10 Yd 225 Bench Vertical jump Broad Shuttle 3-Cone Drill
4.502.67-08 32---
Workout Results
40 Yd 20 Yd 10 Yd 225 Bench Vertical jump Broad Shuttle 3-Cone Drill
4.432.521.6208 3210'4"--

Player Overview

Rated by some recruiting services as the elite prospect in the prep ranks when he signed with the Ducks, Thomas quickly proved worthy of the praise, earning First Team all-conference honors as a kick returner and Co-Offensive Freshman of the Year accolades with an eye-popping 2,235 all-purpose yards and seven touchdowns. His serpent-like quickness, fluidity and acceleration was especially clear during Oregon's Rose Bowl win over Wisconsin when Thomas, affectionately known as "DAT" racked up 314 all-purpose yards. The majority of those yards came on his only two rushing attempts of the contest, when he raced 91 yards and 64 yards for touchdowns.

Unfortunately, as Thomas' fame increased over the next two seasons, his durability and production tailed off. He started eight of 13 games for Oregon as a sophomore, racking up another 1,757 all-purpose yards. He was the only player in the country to score touchdowns as a runner, receiver and as both a punt and kick returner. Expected to explode as Oregon's full-time running back in 2013, Thomas instead struggled with an ankle injury that sidelined him for four full games and limited his play in several others. It should be noted that a healthy Thomas scored six touchdowns and averaged a gaudy 8.1 yards per carry over his first three games in this role.

Thomas leaves Oregon in the conversation as the best all-purpose player in school history. His 5,345 career yards trail only all-time greats LaMichael James and Kenjon Barner, with whom Thomas teamed in the Ducks' most recent Pac-12 championship season of 2011. Thomas holds Oregon records for kickoff return yards (1,885) and punt return average (17.1), and he's fourth in career scoring (278 points). Also a standout member of the UO track and field team, Thomas anchored the 4x100-meter relay that advanced to the 2012 NCAA Championships and ran the sixth-fastest time in school history, 39.89 seconds.

Thomas' elusiveness, speed and versatility make him a weapon that every NFL team would value and hate to cover defensively, making him a potential early round pick. Given the inability of similarly built dynamos like LaMichael James, Trindon Holliday and Tavon Austin to replicate their collegiate success in the NFL, Thomas could be viewed as a "luxury" pick whose price tag is simply too high for most clubs to afford.

Strengths Weaknesses

STRENGTHS: Without question, Thomas is the most electric player in the 2014 draft. He boasts remarkable elusiveness, instant acceleration and the speed to pull away from defenders to make him a legitimate threat to score each time he touches the ball. Shows good vision, locating holes and slithering through them to get into the open field.

Has soft, natural hands for the reception, easily snagging passes and securing them quickly. Tougher than he looks, showing a willingness to lower his shoulder and fight through initial contact to gain as much yardage as possible.

Offers the versatility to play several roles, potentially freeing up a roster spot due for other players.

WEAKNESSES: There is not an NFL offense better suited to taking advantage of Thomas' skill-set than the one he's leaving at Oregon, where wide splits, a dual-threat quarterback and up-tempo play-calling all exaggerated his talents. Does not possess the size and power to play more than a complementary role as an NFL running back. Most teams prefer a larger, tougher player at kick returner, as well.

While a highly productive receiver with the Ducks, caught most of his passes on simple passes to the flats and quick screens and therefore while certainly possessing the quickness and balance to ultimately gain separation as a receiver, Thomas is a raw route-runner. Thomas' production and durability dropped each of his three seasons at Oregon...

COMPARES TO: Tavon Austin, St. Louis Rams - Thomas possesses a stouter frame and obviously more experience at running back than Austin had while at West Virginia and therefore could be viewed as even more versatile than last year's No. 8 overall pick. While boasting soft, reliable hands, he's also much more of a project as a route-runner than Austin, who, recorded "just" 418 yards receiving as a rookie... Early in their respect careers, expect both to make their biggest contributions as returners. Given the decreasing role of returners in today's NFL, it begs the old sports car analogy. They're flashy but how practical are they and will their amount of use ever match the high price tag?

--Rob Rang

CBSSports Facebook Google Plus
Conversation powered by Livefyre


CBSSports Shop

Men's Nike Heathered Royal Denver Broncos Historic Logo Tri-Blend T-Shirt

NFL Nike Gear
Get your favorite team today!
Shop Now