The Browns needed some young infusion of talent along the defensive line this year. Then GM Andrew Berry drafted DE Alex Wright of UAB in the third round, Oklahoma DT Winfrey Perrion in the fourth, and DE Isaiah Thomas in Round 7.
In addition, undrafted free agents signed were DT Glen Logan of LSU and Illinois DT Roderick Perry. Plus, DT Taven Bryan was signed during free agency who is just 26 years old.
All of these new guys are vying for playing time in the defensive end rotation along with seasoned veterans Myles Garrett and Jadeveon Clowney.
With Thomas being taken in the final round, what are his chances of making the 53-man final roster?
Thomas (6’-5”, 266 pounds) grew up in Tulsa, Oklahoma where he began playing football in the fourth grade. He was always the bigger kid and opposing Pop Warner coaches would constantly question his age because of his imposing size.
Basketball was his other sport and the one he excelled in. It also kept him in prime shape prior to football season. He played both sports while attending Memorial High School which is a basketball powerhouse. In his junior year, the school’s basketball squad lost in the state finals but won it all his senior year and was crowned 5A State Champions.
Thomas started football as a freshman and ended up ranked Number 4 on the Oklahoman Super 30 list of the top recruits from the 2017 senior class while playing some offensive tackle and mostly defensive end. He was named Honorable Mention All-State and a U.S. Army All-American.
He had offers from Alabama, Oklahoma, Missouri, Tennessee and Oklahoma State as a four-star recruit. He went to Oklahoma with good height (6’-5”) but was a too-lean 230 pounds.
There he started four games as a freshman and five in his sophomore year on very good defensive units. He finally earned a starting position as a junior in the COVID year of 2020. That year he had 10 starts, 31 total tackles, two batted passes, one forced fumble, two fumble recoveries, 12 tackles for loss plus an impressive 7.5 sacks.
His senior year he had eight sacks, 38 total tackles, three batted passes, three forced fumbles, one fumble recovery, 10.5 tackles for loss with 12 starts and 34 QB pressures. He was also named captain.
Those final two seasons earned him Second Team All-Big 12 honors. He opted out of Oklahoma’s Alamo Bowl appearance.
He began to realize that his position at the next level could be realized, and there is no doubt Thomas has the skills to succeed.
Editor’s note: Thomas appears beginning at 2:35
That success ended with a Senior Bowl invite where he held his own against some excellent pass blockers. He also participated in the Combine where he ran a 4.7 in the 40 and measured 31.5” in the vertical jump and 9’9” in the broad jump.
On the college football experience, he told oklahoma.rivals.com:
“This process has definitely been a dream come true. I’d rather be in this position right now than any other position because my career here at OU didn’t start off the best. These last two years, it’s been everything I’ve dreamed of. Being invited to the Senior Bowl, being invited to the combine and being able to train in California to maximize my skill-set, it’s a blessing. I’m definitely not complaining about any of the steps I’ve taken so far.”
Pre-draft scouting report on NFLDraftBuzz.com:
“Isaiah Thomas is a solid player without any elite traits - he has decent although not special athletic ability, some good pass rush moves but only average strength at the POA and is good in pursuit in run defense. He however has had off-field issues which may make some teams remove him from their draft boards altogether.”
Thomas was part of Oklahoma rosters that were involved in the College Football Playoffs in 2019 in which the Sooners lost 63-28 to eventual champion LSU and also lost in 2018 with a 45-34 defeat from Alabama.
Holes in a strong career
There have been several issues with Thomas off-the-field despite being a productive player while at Oklahoma.
During his senior season, he was arrested for a petty larceny charge in Norman, Oklahoma.
Next, Thomas was arrested for misdemeanor DUI. It seems University of Oklahoma campus police noticed his car as he drove in the wrong direction on a one-way street at 2:00am. The report stated that Thomas had an odor of alcohol and red, watery eyes.
Thomas admitted consumption of alcohol before getting behind the wheel of his car.
While police were processing the situation with Thomas, Norman Police dispatch informed the officers that Thomas had an outstanding warrant. It seems that when he didn’t appear in court for the larceny charge, that generated a failure to appear warrant and was then booked into the Cleveland (Oklahoma) County Detention Center.
A bail bondsman posted $2,000 bond about eight hours later.
But Thomas stuck it out and subsequently put in the work. The easiest route would have been to transfer and begin where there weren’t as many subjective eyes on him. But he stayed at Oklahoma and had a very good senior year.
On to Cleveland
In Round 7 of this year’s NFL draft the Browns owned two seventh round picks. With their own at #223 they selected Thomas.
After the draft, Chris Trapasso of CBS Sports posted the following about the selection of Thomas:
Browns Best pick (Grade A): DL Isaiah Thomas, Oklahoma (R7, P223)
NFL-sized edge rusher with heavy hands and an energetic style around the corner. Awesome swim move. Decent explosiveness. Ready to contribute from Day 1. More EDGE help for Cleveland.
He comes to a Cleveland defense that currently has a need for rotational players along the defensive line. In addition to Thomas, the Browns drafted two other Oklahoma players in DT Perrion Winfrey and WR Michael Woods.
Currently, the depth chart has penciled in Clowney along with three-year veteran Chase Winovich at the right defensive end position. Winovich was added to the roster this off-season in a trade with New England. Others listed on the depth chart include third round pick Alex Wright, Curtis Weaver and undrafted free agents Isaac Rochell and Stephen Weatherly.
Thomas’ strengths include good upper body strength, short-area quickness, lots of hustle, relentless pass rush with powerful hands. Negatives include a below average run stopper, limited overall athletic ability, not explosive off the snap and does not possess elite flexibility.