Outside linebacker Chase Thomas had an extremely productive career for the Stanford Cardinal. He recorded 51 career tackles for loss and 27 sacks while leading his team to a successful four years.
Given his success at Stanford, it was surprising that he went undrafted in April. Based on his consistent production, it seemed odd that not one team was willing to take a shot on him, even in the later rounds.
However, it does make a certain amount of sense when you take a look at his measureable numbers. Thomas is not overwhelmingly big or fast off of the edge. At 6’3”, 244 pounds, he is not big enough to make up for his relatively sluggish 4.91 speed.
Keep in mind that Thomas also played in an exceptional front seven. This meant that his opponents’ attention had to be distributed among numerous players, such as Shayne Skov, Trent Murphy, and Ben Gardner. Therefore, he rarely faced the double teams that someone as productive as he was would usually face.
Thomas was also not elite in terms of his power. He played with a high motor and great hustle but rarely dominated or blew threw offensive tackles like the top tier of outside linebackers is capable of doing on a consistent basis.
This is not to take away from Thomas’ accomplishments. On the contrary, the fact that he was able to record those gaudy numbers with underwhelming physical tools speaks volumes to his abilities as a player. However, his lack of upside was fatal to his draft stock in the end.
Just because he went undrafted does not mean that Thomas will never find his way into an NFL starting lineup. He was recently given a shot with the Oakland Raiders, who desperately need help on that front seven that struggled so much in 2012.
If Thomas can add some more bulk and improve on his speed and agility, there is no reason why he couldn’t crack the 53-man roster and make an impact on special teams. From there, he definitely has the talent and work ethic to become a starter some day.
He may not have the physical tools, but Thomas has proven his skills as a pass-rusher and a football player. If he is given an opportunity in the right system, which should not be a problem in the future, look for the former Stanford star to prove the doubters wrong in the NFL.