When the Pittsburgh Steelers originally drafted safety Shamarko Thomas, they probably envisioned him being the heir apparent to future Hall of Famer Troy Polamalu. However, three years into his career, Thomas has yet to show that he can play the safety position in the NFL. On Wednesday, head coach Mike Tomlin was asked to evaluate Thomas’ play in 2015, most of which came on special teams.
“I thought he did a good job, particularly as a core special teamer,” said Tomlin of Thomas, who was drafted in the fourth round of the 2013 NFL Draft out of Syracuse. “He’s still evolving as a defender, he’s still working to prove himself in that area. I like his work. I don’t think it’s from a lack of effort, it just hasn’t come together for him yet. We’ll continue to work with him. In the meantime, well continue to appreciate the contributions that he provides us as a core member of our special teams unit.”
Over the course of the last two seasons, Thomas has played all of 23 defensive snaps for the Steelers. While he did finish the 2015 season with the second-most special teams tackles, he was penalized twice for fair catch interference. As of right now, Thomas is a special teams player who can occasionally give you some emergency snaps at the safety position. Because of that, he certainly shouldn’t be considered a lock to make the final 53-man roster out of training camp in 2016.
Most of Thomas’ problems appear to be from the neck up and that might mean he’s still struggling to pick up the Steelers defensive play book even though he’s been in Pittsburgh for three full seasons. Thomas is now entering the final year of his rookie contract so this upcoming offseason might wind up being his last one with the Steelers if he doesn’t show some serious improvement moving forward.