Super Bowl LI was the best possible ending to the 2016 NFL season – except for one thing. The Dallas Cowboys weren’t playing, and ever since this reality set in with their Divisional loss to the Packers, I’ve been scouting defensive line prospects in the 2017 NFL Draft over at Slant Sports. The Cowboys’ need for improvements along the defensive line is a well-known problem now, and solutions to this problem will be plentiful throughout the draft.
Even if they stay home and draft off of their board with the 28th overall pick, they can likely find EDGE talent – as my recent three round mock lands UCLA’s Takk McKinley in Dallas with this pick.
Should the Cowboys want to trade up and land a premier defensive line prospect though, Solomon Thomas of Stanford could be their guy. With the talent to instantly make a difference on Rod Marinelli’s defense, it’s not an exaggeration to say that this Cardinal Junior could be the missing piece for America’s Team in advancing through the playoffs in 2017.
With his best reps coming against guards, Thomas’ incredibly strong legs never stop driving, which often sets him up to shed blocks at the point of attack and finish.
This film clip and quote comes from my full scouting report on Solomon Thomas, and quickly gives you a feel for his natural strength, power, and size. An absolute force for any offensive guard to deal with, Thomas’ most explosive rushes come from the 3T DT position, where Dallas is already well off with Tyrone Crawford, Cedric Thornton, and Maliek Collins all capable of producing at the position.
What still makes Thomas a target for a potential blockbuster trade on draft night with the Cowboys is his ability on tape to translate his skill set seen as an interior rusher to the left defensive end position.
…his NFL projection to me comes down to the “ceiling vs. floor” debate. Thomas’ ceiling is certainly high, and while it may not be as astronomically high as other true EDGE prospects in this draft, it is his floor that makes him a special player.
The 2017 NFL Draft is absolutely loaded with EDGE talent, and thus there are different types of rushers that will fit each team’s needs differently. It would be unfair to pair Thomas with the true speed defensive ends that many in Cowboys Nation covet, but he would be an elite strong side base DE with the Cowboys in year one.
What made the 2016 Dallas Cowboys draft class so special this past season was their depth, as a fourth round pick won Offensive Rookie of the Year, and a sixth round pick stepped up to play a major role at cornerback. Obviously, trading away the picks that could land the Cowboys their next Dak Prescott or Anthony Brown would drastically change expectations for this draft compared to the last – but that is nothing more than a compliment to the star that Solomon Thomas could soon become in the NFL.
…Solomon Thomas is going to be a fixture on any team’s defensive line for a long time in the NFL
time long overdue for the Cowboys to fix their defensive line, and drafting young talent at the position is the best way to go about this. Whether they evaluate the talent left on the board with the 28th overall pick, or try to move up and get their guy like Solomon Thomas, a pass rush is the last realistic thing standing between Jason Garrett’s team and a Super Bowl.
As far as I’m concerned, Solomon Thomas could be this pass rush, and is well worth moving up for on draft night.