2022 NFL Draft Scouting Report: Cameron Thomasby Mason Thompson April 18, 2022 1 comment
Cameron Thomas is yet another pass-rusher that can be found on day two that will likely provide an immediate impact for whichever team drafts him. The San Diego State product enjoyed the best season of his collegiate career in 2021 when he totaled 10.5 sacks and 20.5 tackles for loss. Thomas has consistently produced for the Aztecs and aligns from just about anywhere on the defensive front. Despite a bit of a tumble down draft boards recently due to him dropping out of the Senior Bowl with a hamstring injury, Thomas is still a dynamic player in the deep 2022 edge rusher class.
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Name: Cameron Thomas
Jersey: No. 99
Position: Edge Rusher
School: San Diego State
Class: Redshirt Junior
Weight: 270 lbs
Games Watched: Nevada (2021), Arizona (2021), Utah (2021)
Major Injury History: None
Pass Rush Skills (11.5/15)
Thomas is an outstanding pass-rusher from wherever he aligns. He has an intriguing blend of speed and power which he occasionally switches between. He doesn’t necessarily have a specific move that he goes to, which is a bit odd. Thomas does rely on his lateral speed and motor to keep him on a track to the quarterback. It is also worth noting that Thomas was joined by a ton of other talented players along the SDSU front, which allowed him to have a few clean-up sacks as a result of others causing the quarterback to step up into the pocket.
Explosive is a word that translates to his game. Thomas is a good athlete that can surprise linemen with his initial quickness and burst off the line of scrimmage, which also occurs when Thomas is chasing after opposing quarterbacks to get a sack.
First Step (9/10)
Thomas can win right from the jump of the snap. He is uber-quick off the line of scrimmage. Thomas immediately puts pressure on opposing linemen and gets them into their pass set a lot quicker than they would like. Because of this, Thomas has sneaky speed that can come as a surprise.
Because of his length, Thomas doesn’t necessarily have the best length to use to his advantage here. He doesn’t typically line up as a threat outside of the tackle. He’s usually aligned on the interior by the guards and rarely heads up or outside of the tackle. Thomas fits well with his blend of size, speed, power, and explosiveness.
Hand Usage (8.5/10)
Thomas is aggressive with his hands. He has a lot of juice behind his punches off the line of scrimmage. When he is stonewalled by a lineman from the snap, Thomas can counter quickly enough to create an edge on his way to the ball carrier or quarterback. He can fire his hands out quickly and continuously churn them throughout his pass-rush rep to gain an edge.
Thomas is a constant threat when he’s on the field. He never gives up on a play, even when he’s getting double-teamed by a tackle and guard. Thomas can move through double teams and work his way to the quarterback. Even against Carson Strong, Thomas chased him down from the opposite side of the field a time or two, even after failing to grasp Strong the first time around, and gathering himself up off the turf to almost sack him yet again. A pass-rusher with a motor as hot as Thomas’s is difficult to find on the second day of the draft.
Despite being a dominant run defender, there are times when Thomas whiffs on tackles. He dives at the ball carrier’s ankle and comes up empty-handed. Other times, he does it just well enough to trip up the ball carrier and bring them down when they’re in space. On the interior, Thomas typically does pretty well here, but it is a slight worry that he can miss some tackles in the open field.
Strength at the LOS (7.5/10)
Thomas struggles a bit in this regard. A big factor in a pass rusher’s skill set is his ability to keep his feet moving when engaged with an offensive lineman. There were multiple times during the three games watched when Thomas stopped moving his feet and tried disengaging from the lineman with his upper body strength instead of using his feet to his advantage. With that said, he does a great job of converting speed to power in his pass-rush reps.
Run Defense (9/10)
Thomas is a stout run defender. He aligns on the interior of the defensive line an astounding amount for as much as it’s considered. Thomas does a good job of disengaging from the man blocking him, and his motor helps him finish off the ball-carrier for a short gain.
Thomas aligns in a variety of different spots along the defensive front. On some occasions, he has aligned as a nose tackle, a three-tech, 4i, and five-tech, along with playing from three and four-point stances and the occasional drop into coverage from his original position to cover tight ends running up the seams. For defenses that love to align their players in multiple places on the front of their defensive line, Thomas should be given a deep look.
Thomas is an intriguing player that many across the draft community have fallen in love with. He has a ton of versatility which makes him a fit in many schemes across the league. His motor is constantly running, and Thomas rarely gives up on a play, specifically with the quarterback in his sights. Thomas now seems to be scratching the surface of what he may become at the next level, and teams will love what he has to offer in terms of his motor and versatility to pair with the pass-rush skills that he’s already developed. Teams in the middle of day two with a need at a pass-rusher spot that could look to add Thomas, including the Atlanta Falcons, Kansas City Chiefs, New York Giants, and New York Jets, should keep a close eye on Thomas.
Rookie Projection: Starting 4-3 Defensive End
Third Year Projection: Pro Bowl Pass Rusher
Final Grade (83.5/100): Mid-Second Round Pick
Player Comp: Payton Turner