The Chicago Bears drafted Zach Thomas, a tackle from San Diego State. While he played tackle for the Aztecs, he arguably was better off at guard in college but played outside because he was the best lineman on the roster.
Now, he may be able to unlock more out of his game from the guard position. Using his athletic traits, you can find some pretty solid NFL projections, and it’s not surprising that the most comparable players to Zach Thomas are interior offensive linemen.
Below is a list of linemen who participated in the NFL combine and are 6’4 “to 6’5”, 302 pounds to 314, ran 4.91 to 5.09 in the 40-yard dash, and had a 7.3 to 7.6 3-cone with a 4.53 to 4.69 short shuttle. Also, these players were selected outside the top 100 picks.
Athletically, this is the group that Zach Thomas would best fit into.
Overall, Chicago Bears fans should see some names that are familiar. JC Tretter is someone that fans want the team to sign but is not a great comparison because Tretter moved to center in the NFL.
Tom Compton was a depth lineman for the Chicago Bears and played both tackle and guard. This is a realistic outcome and one that should not be looked down on. However, the best comparison may be someone that the Bears tried to sign this offseason with this regime. That is Ryan Bates.
Bates was expected to be signed to play right guard, but the Buffalo Bills matched his restricted offer. Below is a side-by-side comparison of Zach Thomas and Ryan Bates.
Bates is a bit more athletic, but almost all of it comes down to a questionably low vertical. It is even more surprising when the rest of his athletic numbers match Ryan Bates, almost exactly, if not seeing Thomas as more athletic.
Thomas is a bit longer, with similar height and weight. He is a bit quicker and has very similar agility tests. Were the Chicago Bears looking at Zach Thomas and thinking this is a dart at a player like Ryan Bates?
Sure, he may not become that player that they wanted to sign, but Bates was a UDFA who has slowly been moving up the depth chart. Even if it takes time, and the outcome is a player who is a lower-end starter, or a higher-end depth performer that is a realistic outcome for Zach Thomas.