Mark Konezny-US PRESSWIRE
The Eagles will add a safety or two or three this offseason, the question is really only where are they coming from? We've been profiling the prospects that could be had via the draft (and a few free agent rumors) in our DB watch series.
Next up, we take a look at Syracuse S Shamarko Thomas. Despite his face plant while running the 40, Thomas really had a great combine and has been drawing comparisons to former defensive MVP Bob Sanders. Like Sanders, Thomas is small in stature, but very athletic and with a tenacious motor.
Here's how the two stack up from their combine workouts.
|HT||5-8 7/8||5-8 7/8|
Obviously they're very comparable aside from the strength advantage Thomas seems to have. Like Sanders (who went 44th overall) Thomas is projected as a 2nd or 3rd round pick.
Thomas has played all over the Syracuse defense in his time there, starting out as a linebacker, then moving to corner before taking over at strong safety. In his senior season he certainly played like a linebacker with corner coverage skills forcing 3 fumbles and grabbing 2 picks. He's tough enough to get into the box and hit people, but has the speed to cover slot WRs.
From ESPN/Scouts Inc.
He has the movement skills to cover slot receivers and even play some cornerback. He can learn to throttle down more in space, but Thomas shows an explosive closing burst to cover ground quickly and deliver violent shots at the point of attack. In addition, he is an instinctive and impact blitzer off the edge. Thomas diagnoses plays quickly and plays the game angry, and his combine showing certainly lived up to his film.
Thomas is also an extremely high character guy, who lost both of his parents while he was in college and has since taken responsibility for the care of his 5 siblings.
There is certainly concern that his size will hurt him in the pros and the violent nature of his game will lead to injuries, much like they did for Bob Sanders. However, Thomas isn't going to magically grow 4 inches and for his size he's very well built and has been durable.
Size is not the only concern. He has been known to bite on play fakes and can go for the kill shot rather than make a sound wrap up tackle. He is an instinctive player though, so there's hope that his aggressiveness can be harnessed.
As I said, he's projected to go near the 3rd round, so if the Eagles grabbed a veteran safety in free agency, Thomas could take some time to develop.