The 2018 NFL Draft Prospect series breaks down draft-eligible players, highlighting their college production as well as their NFL potential. It’s important for daily fantasy players to know about NFL rookies before they’ve played a down of professional football because they are among the most misvalued assets in all of DFS. People who know NFL rookies have a significant DFS edge. The draft will be held at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, TX, from April 26-28.
This piece is on Indiana tight end Ian Thomas.
Updated as of Apr. 13.
Senior | 6’4″ and 259 Pounds | Born June 6, 1996 (Age: 21) | Projection: Rounds 3-4
Combine numbers: 40-yard: 4.74 sec | bench reps: DNP | 3-cone: 7.15 sec | 20-yard shuttle: 4.2 sec | vertical: 36 in | broad: 123 in
Reportedly there are NFL evaluators who believe Thomas could be the No. 1 tight end from this class in a few seasons, but he’s extremely unlikely to be drafted in the top three (maybe even top four) at the position. Although his upside might entice some scouts, his rawness and general dearth of collegiate production will probably prevent him from being drafted as more than a developmental prospect, and tight ends are notoriously slow to progress in the NFL anyway. Despite any love that decision-makers might have for him, he certainly didn’t leave the Senior Bowl and combine with more hype than he had before the events.
A young and athletic specimen, Thomas will likely need at least one season in an offense before being ready to contribute in a meaningful way: At least that’s the pattern he exhibited in college. He started his undergraduate career at Nassau Community College and did almost nothing as a freshman, catching just four passes in four games (although two of those went for touchdowns), but as a sophomore in eight games he had a 23-catch, 433-yard, three-touchdown campaign that was impressive enough for him to leave Nassau as the No. 2 junior college tight end in the nation. Following his recruitment to Indiana, Thomas once again did little in his first year on campus — he had three receptions in 13 games — but as a senior (despite dealing with injuries) he had a much-improved 25-376-5 seasons in 10 games.
Something NFL teams are likely to appreciate about Thomas is his grit: When Thomas was young his mother passed away due to liver and kidney failure, and a year later his father died from a heart attack. One of nine siblings, Thomas was raised by an older brother — all of the siblings lived in a house together and cared for each other — but despite his difficult circumstances Thomas excelled, lettering in basketball and track and field and receiving the football team’s MVP award in high school. At Indiana, Thomas has majored in criminal justice: Everything about him suggests that he has the kind of high character that would appeal to coaches and front-office executives.
Whether he ultimately has NFL success, Thomas is going to get his shot: The NFL needs guys like Thomas more than he needs the NFL.
Photo Credit: Mike Granse-USA TODAY Sports