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Author Topic: First to visit...Mike Thomas?  (Read 793 times)
Brinker
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« on: Mar 31, 2009 at 15:16 »

Draft prospect visits Steelers
Tuesday, March 31, 2009
By Ed Bouchette, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Mike Thomas, a 5-foot-8 1/2 wide receiver from University of Arizona, became the first college prospect from outside the area to visit the Steelers today.

Thomas earned all-Pac 10 honors last season as a receiver and punt returner. He set the conference record with 259 career receptions and was timed at 4.30 in the 40-yard sprint at the NFL combine in Indianapolis.

The Steelers, who lost No. 3 receiver Nate Washington in free agency, would like to draft a receiver with good speed who also could return punts and/or kickoffs for them.

Thomas is the first of 30 prospects the Steelers are permitted to entertain at their facility before the draft.


Maybe catches on as a punt returner... 4.3 40 not to bad...

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Brinker
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« Reply #1 on: Apr 01, 2009 at 11:35 »

The Steelers are hosting a pair of draft prospects today. Oklahoma offensive tackle Phil Loadholt and University of Central Florida cornerback/return specialist Joe Burnett are meeting with the coaches at the team's South Side facility.

The 6-8, 345-pound Loadholt anchored the Sooners' offensive line last season. He played left tackle at Oklahoma but could be a right tackle in the NFL.

The 5-11, 192-pound Burnett started four seasons for UCF and excelled as a defensive back and return man.

Looks like we are trying to bolster our poor return game...


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LambertsFrontTeeth
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« Reply #2 on: Apr 01, 2009 at 13:43 »

Any info by the "expert" draftniks on whereabouts these guys should be drafted? On a typical value chart, I mean.

I can't imagine these guys earlier than 3rd round or so.

I'd love us to use one of our 3rd round picks on a return guy, and use the other for...oh...wait...

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« Reply #3 on: Apr 01, 2009 at 13:50 »

Quote
Mike Thomas
College: Arizona     Number: 10
Height: 5-08   Weight: 195
Position: WR  Pos2: KR  Class/Draft Year: Sr/2009
40 Low: 4.24  40 Time: 4.30   40 High: 4.40

Projected Round: 2-3      Stock:
Rated number 9 out of 309 WR's     63 / 2558 TOTAL


Positives: Short, but has a strong, surprisingly think frame. Good initial burst off the snap and can quickly eat up the cushion if unchallenged at the line of scrimmage. Can sink his hips and shows good immediate burst out of his breaks. Good toughness as a receiver and returner. Not afraid of contact and will go over the middle or attack the seam as a returner with reckless abandon. Good vision for the cutback and sets up his blocks well. Soft hands for the reception. Can pluck outside of his frame. Good body control to make extend and make the tough catch. Short, but times his leaps well. Returned two punts as a senior -- his first year as a returner. Solid week of practice at the Senior Bowl. Well suited to moving inside to the slot position.

Negatives: Will be limited to a slot position in the NFL, as he lacks the size and strength to play outside. More quick than fast. Good timed speed, but lacks the top end speed to consistently beat defenders over the top. Prone to lapses in concentration and drops more passes than he should. Production is inflated due to Arizona's spread offense and lack of surrounding playmakers throughout much of Thomas' career.

Compares To: ANTWAAN RANDLE EL, Washington -- Thomas is a multi-talented athlete with a strong-looking, yet shorter than ideal frame. Like Randle El, his chance for earning playing time on offense will come as a slot receiver. For all of his impressive timed speed, he just lacks that extra gear to be much of a vertical threat and the spread offense he played in was able to hide that fact. He has very good leaping ability, but will usually give up quite a few inches to defenders, making it a 50-50 chance he will high-point the throw. His added value will come on the return unit. Taking over punt return chores last year is sure to put some extra bucks in his pocket on draft day.

Thomas is a classic case that big things come in small packages. Having played for a team in a rebuilding process, as a senior he led the team to its first bowl game appearance in nine seasons. The Wildcats would have probably been sitting home in January if not for Thomas' outstanding performance in a variety of roles, amassing 1,648 all-purpose yards while scoring touchdowns rushing, receiving and returning punts in 2008.

Regarded as the school's best all-purpose threat, Thomas closed out his career setting the school and Pac-10 Conference all-time record with 259 receptions. His 3,231 receiving yards placed eighth in league annals and third on the Arizona record charts, as his 23 touchdown grabs tied for third in Wildcats history. He amassed 4,891 yards, the fourth-best career total at Arizona.

Thomas looks like a guy who's right at that 2.64 pick.  I've been looking at WR/KR in later rounds, but Thomas is a guy I'd definitely consider earlier.  I tend not to like those leprechaun type WR/KR, as their skills too often don't seem to translate to the NFL, but Thomas might be an exception.
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« Reply #4 on: Apr 01, 2009 at 13:58 »

Quote
Name: Phil Loadholt
College: Oklahoma     Number: 79
Height: 6-8   Weight: 332
Position: OT  Pos2:   Class/Draft Year: Sr/2009
40 Low: 5.34  40 Time: 5.49   40 High: 5.59

Projected Round: 2-3      Stock:
Rated number 8 out of 184 OT's     66 / 2558 TOTAL

Positives: Potentially dominant drive blocker. Massive man who can engulf his opponent, turn him away from the ballcarrier and pancake him to the ground. Looks to intimidate. Only adequate initial quickness off the snap, but has a deep kick-slide and the long arms to keep the pass rusher at bay. Natural knee bender who plays with impressive leverage and balance for a man of his size. Better lateral quickness than initial.

Negatives: Bit of a "tweener." Too often beaten off the snap by ends to remain at left tackle and might even have to be moved inside -- where his height would be a liability. Marginal lateral quickness to recover when beaten initially. Too often relies on his size, failing to sustain blocks as effectively as he should.

Compares To: MAX STARKS, Pittsburgh -- Might develop into a left tackle, but his lack of lateral range and explosion off the snap would make him a better fit on the right side or in the interior, as he is best when playing in a phone booth rather than working on an island. For a team that plays smash-mouth football, he could be an ideal fit, as you need a city to get around his massive frame. He just appears too stiff in his hips to trust him with protecting a quarterback's blind side at this stage of his game.

Despite extremely long arms (36.5 inches), he managed 24 reps with 225 pounds on the bench at the combine.

The Starks comparison seems appropriate, and I could see us taking Load at 2.64, displacing Colon, and in a few years maybe Load challenges at LT.  Will never be a great LT (cf. Starks), but could be a solid OT for us.

Loadholt's mobility was a big issue for me, but considering how high some RTs went last year (Otah, Cherilus), I'd say it's definitely possible he could come off the board as a very early surprise for a team like the Vikings, who desperately need a RT, possibly even R1.  I'll put Loadholt being there at 2.64 at 50%.  He'd definitely be a step up from short-armed Colon; that 36.5" wingspan portends very good play, if the National Football Post article is worth a damn.
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« Reply #5 on: Apr 01, 2009 at 14:04 »

Quote
Name: Joe Burnett
College: Central Florida     Number: 19
Height: 5-10   Weight: 192
Position: CB  Pos2: KR  Class/Draft Year: Sr/2009
40 Low: 4.47  40 Time: 4.58   40 High: 4.64

Projected Round: 5-6      Stock:
Rated number 23 out of 229 CB's     184 / 2558 TOTAL

Positives: Confident and a leader on the field. ... Stronger than you'd expect for his size. ... Good vertical, able to make a play on jump balls. ... Solid hands for the interception and is elusive enough to make yardage after the catch. ... Good recovery and closing speed -- is never out of a play. ... Nice hand-eye coordination to break up passes. ... Quality kickoff and punt returner because he has solid hands, good vision and patience, hits the open lane hard, makes the first man miss and runs through arm tackles.

Negatives: A bit small and light to handle larger NFL receivers, although he has a good lower-body build. ... Lacks elite top-end speed. ... Not particularly strong on the line and struggles to get off blocks. ... Brings pressure as a blitzer but does not finish off the quarterback. ... Usually plays off the receiver in order to get cushion on deep routes. ... More of a cut tackler, does not wrap up often enough. ... Probably best in a zone system with help over the top. ... Is not a typical pro punt returner with great speed and quickness.

Burnett made headlines since starting as a freshman because of his skills as a cornerback (16 career interceptions, 35 pass breakups) and return man (three punt, two kickoff returns for touchdown). The four-year starter was named first-team All-Conference USA at cornerback and kickoff and punt returner as a senior. A bit smaller and slower than most teams would like in a starter, Burnett is a strong, confident Tampa-2 corner in the making.

PRO POTENTIAL: CB Joe Burnett played in the Texas vs. Nation All-Star game and has been invited to the NFL Scouting Combine. Last year, the All-American was the only player in the FBS to finish in the Top 20 in kickoff returns and punt returns. He earned first-team all-conference honors four straight years and ranks second in C-USA history with 16 picks.

Looks like a really decent later round prospect.  Could be a real playmaker in the nickel, and have great return value.  At 5'9", I'm not putting him out on the edge.  With back-to-back picks in R5 (168, 169), the Steelers could do worse than Burnett.
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Finnegans Wake
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« Reply #6 on: Apr 01, 2009 at 14:10 »

Any info by the "expert" draftniks on whereabouts these guys should be drafted? On a typical value chart, I mean.

I can't imagine these guys earlier than 3rd round or so.

I'd love us to use one of our 3rd round picks on a return guy, and use the other for...oh...wait...

 cussing cussing cussing

In sum: Thomas (NFLDS #63, Draft Tek #79), Loadholt (NFLDS #66, Draft Tek #59), Burnett (NFLDS #184, Draft tek #187).  My own opinion is that WRs tend to slide some on draft day, so Thomas will be there at 2.64 but not likely at 3.96, even if he slides; Loadholt is being downgraded IMO unfairly for mobility, when lots of teams need a big RT, and 50/50 at best he's there at 2.64; Burnett looks like a great fit at one of those R5 picks.

I'd have no problem with any of these guys. 
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