It may have been a small sample size as Thomas was on the field for just 23 of the 64 defensive snaps, but he made the most of his opportunities by finishing with two tackles, a quarterback pressure and a key fumble recovery in the fourth quarter that gave the Browns a final chance at pulling out a win. (And earned him a coveted Brownie!)
Thomas earned the highest overall grade (77.8) and the highest pass-rushing grade (90.5) among the defensive lineman, which was good enough to land him on PFF’s rankings of the top 15 rookies from Week 7:
Thomas had an encouraging performance for a defensive line in need of encouraging performances. He played 23 snaps — 21 of them against the run — and recorded two run stops. On his two pass-rushing snaps, he also notched a pressure.
It has been a slow build for the 6-foot-5 and 266-pound Thomas, who was a seventh-round selection by the Browns in the 2022 NFL Draft. He only played nine snaps on defense in Week 1 and one snap in Week 3, but the past two games he has seen a slight uptick in his playing time.
Thomas finally opened his account against the Ravens, which is a good start, and now he needs to keep it going as the Browns will continue to need quality depth at defensive end for when starters Myles Garrett and Jadeveon Clowney need a breather. Chase Winovich, who was acquired in the offseason via a trade with the New England Patriots, was supposed to be that guy but he is currently on injured reserve so it is nice to think that Thomas might be starting to show some potential as a viable backup.
If Thomas can show more consistency, he can also be an asset that would allow defensive coordinator Joe Woods to move Garrett or Clowney inside on occasion to help relieve the ongoing situation at defensive tackle.
It is only one game and the life of a low-round rookie is often filled with ups and downs, but if Thomas can keep working and build off his efforts against the Ravens, he could be in line for more playing time as the season rolls along.