From now until the 2017 NFL Draft takes place, we hope to showcase as many prospects as possible and examine both their strengths and weaknesses. Most of these profiles will feature individuals that the Pittsburgh Steelers are likely to have an interest in, while a few others will be top-ranked players. If there is a player you would like us to analyze, let us know in the comments below.
Jahad Thomas/RB Temple – 5’9/6 190
– Better than timed speed and a threat in the open field, able to run away from defensive backs
– Shows excellent change of direction ability in space, makes cuts without losing ounce of speed
– Athletic overall and has ability to create beyond what’s blocked
– Impact player who sparked offense when called upon
– Gives effort in pass protection and tries to stay square while also showing willingness to cut block against linebackers
– Good carriage of the football and ball security was solid
– Experience and productivity out of the backfield
– Return experience and productive special teamer
– Undersized, short with a slight frame and doesn’t have much bulk
– Goes down way too easy from arm tackles, reduces threat of his speed, and rarely breaks a tackle
– Lacks all power and will struggle between the tackles and on the goal line
– Gets downhill when lined up in shotgun but struggles more in runs from under center when asked to get horizontal, takes too long to gather himself and make cut on zone runs
– Must show more patience on gap runs and not outrun his pullers
– Tested terribly for his size and expectations
– Did not have an overly productive career
– Career: 563 carries, 2599 yards, 30 TDs, 69 receptions
– 46 career kick returns, 22.5 average, 1 TD
– 2016: 207 carries, 953 yards (4.6 YPC), 13 TDs
– Missed two games with left hand sprain senior year
– Captained football and basketball team senior year of high school
– Wore #5, single-digit number given to toughest players on the team
We have broken down a lot of running backs in this class since the Steelers are virtually guaranteed to select one in the draft. Thomas is in the docket for the sole reason that the team met with him at the Combine, showing a modest level of interest.
On the field, he’s got above average straight line speed and does well to change directions in space, not losing speed, and making defenders miss. He has the burst and speed to win the edge, too. His Penn State tape in 2015 was the most impressive I saw. Not an uber-productive game overall but he made timely plays, including back-to-back runs on 2nd and 22 and 3rd and 10 to set up the Owls first score.
This run might have been his most impressive, putting Temple comfortably ahead in the upset. Shows speed and change of direction ability. Threat in space.
Sadly, an above average level of athleticism is about the only thing going for him. He tested pretty horribly, running a 4.62 at 190 pounds. I think he plays faster than that but still, it’s a troubling number that made teams have to re-think him.
There’s zero power to his game. Light, slight frame, and it shows on tape. Arm tackles is all it takes for him to go down and he tries to spin away from defenders than go through him, very Rashard Mendenhall like.
He’s in the open field here, needing only to make one guy miss for a huge run, but the arm tackle is enough to take him down.
I don’t think Thomas dances a lot but he does look to bounce a lot of runs and he has to play within the scheme more often. You could argue the puller is a little late here but Thomas is out in front of him, losing his blocker, and not getting as much as he could.
He can catch a bit and has experience at WR and had return work early in his career but none of it is super impressive. He’s a good athlete who didn’t test like one. Not a lot to get excited about. Granted, maybe I didn’t watch as much as I should’ve, but I wouldn’t draft him and hope the Steelers don’t either. However, he makes sense as a priority UDFA for the team.
Projection: Priority UDFA
Games Watched: vs Penn State (2015), vs Notre Dame (2015), vs South Florida