The Cleveland Browns are using their allotted 30 prospect visits ahead of the 2018 NFL Draft to scour the depth and breadth of the players available. Aside from hosting the class’ most well-known names, including quarterbacks, they are also kicking tires on late-round prospects in search of diamonds in the rough.
In the latter column stands Louisiana-Lafayette defensive back Simeon Thomas. Thomas met with the Browns in Berea on Friday according to the Houston Chronicle’s Aaron Wilson. As Wilson points out, Thomas has a lot of athletic upside, with ideal size and speed but remains on the draft’s fringes; however, unlike some outliers the Browns have met with, his red flags are few, making him an intriguing Day 3 option if not a priority undrafted free agent rookie.
Cleveland Browns visit today: Louisiana-Lafayette CB Simeon Thomas (6-3 4/8, 190, 35-inch arms, 11-3 broad jump, 39-inch vertical, 4.47 40-yard dash time), has previously visited Seattle Seahawks— Aaron Wilson (@AaronWilson_NFL) April 13, 2018
Thomas recorded 90 total tackles, two interceptions and 19 passes defensed while working as both a safety and a cornerback. That positional versatility is of the sort that defines a late-round developmental pick, a player who could go from practice squad or special teams duty in the beginning of his career to an eventual defensive asset with time and coaching attention.
Though not known for interceptions at the collegiate level, Thomas still finds his way to the football; DraftAnalyst.com’s scouting report on him notes that Thomas “Quickly picks up coverage assignments, plays heads-up football and nicely locates the pass in the air,” and is “Feisty, physical and works hard to break up throws.” Though he “Does not consistently play under control and guesses wrong,” those are two negatives that can be turned around by learning better technique.
DraftAnalyst pegs Thomas as dimeback, a fourth cornerback or third safety, a position becoming more and more important as the NFL shifts from traditional 3-4 and 4-3 base defenses to more often operating out of sub packages.
Thomas was held out of and/or suspended for part of his rookie and all of his sophomore seasons partly for academic ineligibility reasons, partly because of NCAA sanctions imparted on Louisiana-Lafayette. Thus, his collegiate career began in 2012 but his road to the NFL took longer than most. He’s 25 years old, but the two-year starter shouldn’t be overlooked for either his age or for the length of time he was forced off the field. He’s more the victim of institutional impropriety than of his own mistakes.
Regardless of what the Browns ultimately decide in two weeks’ time, it’s clear they are going up and down their draft board when it comes to pre-draft visits. Thomas should be kept in mind as a later-round or free agent target for Cleveland. As a position-fluid defensive back with special-teams capabilities, he’s the type of player teams look out for to fill out the bottom of their rosters.