Cleveland Browns Comprehensive NFL Draft Review: Isaiah Thomas, DE Oklahoma

Game Tape

Nominally a defensive end, Thomas played up and down the line during his time at Oklahoma, playing anywhere from a three-tech all the way out to a nine. Thomas has a good first step and can generate speed quickly off the ball, enabling him to create momentum and some added pop in his hands.

At times, he will simply shoot a gap and get through to put put immediate pressure on the play before it’s started. More often, it enables him to deliver a strong punch that can jolt opponents and give him immediate control of the play. His hands are one of the aspects of his game that stands out on tape.

Not only can he deliver a punch, but he keeps opponents out of his body, can control blockers and defeat blocks. His understanding of placement and the efficiency with which he can operate is advanced relative to the collegiate level. He can stack and shed or control the blocker, making it difficult for them to reach him to get outside of him.

Thomas is stout at the point of attack and doesn’t give up much ground, often able to frustrate opposing guards in the process. He has an excellent understanding of how to play his role within the scheme, willing to do the dirty work for the sake of the team. In that respect, it’s easy to understand why the Sooners coaching staff played him in so many spots.

Thomas, meanwhile, struggles to change directions. If he gets run past a play, he has virtually no chance to recover. He doesn’t offer much bend and his movement can best be described as meandering. Thomas lacks hip flexibility but his ankles might be even worse. The best thing Thomas will show is his ability to fire off the ball at an angle well, but after that, he’s out of luck. He ends up using his hands as levers to make major course changes.

Fortunately, Thomas does a good job with angles, be it working down the line or in pursuit. His effort in pursuit is good and will make some tackles down the field. However, the lack of agility and struggles to change direction will also leave him grasping at air in tackling attempts as well as on the ground. That’s part of why he has to be so disciplined staying in his lane, because if he didn’t, his team would consistently get gashed.

As a pass rusher, Thomas either gets through immediately or wins with his hands to defeat blocks. He has flashed a spin move, which has had its moments. Thomas does have excellent closing speed, but is vulnerable to getting juked by the passer.

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