Left tackle? No! Wide Receiver? Sort of. Slightly outside of what seems to be the norm (in terms of free agency talk), Devin Thomas might help fill a few of the Rams needs this upcoming season, but not necessarily on the offensive side of the ball.
The name may ring a bell, not only as recent member of the Super Bowl Champion New York Giants, but more so due to the fact that former Ram Donnie Avery snuck ahead of him in the 2008 draft. Haven’t heard from him lately? Most haven’t.....unless you’re a Giants fan. So, just what does he have to offer the St. Louis Rams?
Taken with the 34th overall pick of the 2008 NFL draft, Thomas (selected by the Washington Redskins) had a very short college resume, but displayed extreme potential. The Michigan State Spartan product had an extremely productive junior year with 79 catches, a school record, for 1,260 yard, and 8 TD’s. Choosing to fore go his senior season, the combine only helped improve Thomas’ value as a legitimate NFL prospect, as the 6’2", 218 WR was able to run a 4.4 forty. Putting on display his size and speed, he was just a botched Rams pick away from being the first WR selected in the 2008 draft. BUT, knowing what we know now, could we have done any worse?
Clearly, the Donnie Avery pick didn’t pan out as we all would’ve liked, and unfortunately we’ve had to move on from that relationship, due (mainly) to injury concerns. Thomas, however, has remained healthy but been unable to prove that he can cut it in the big league. He was under a constant microscope in D.C., as his freakish workout regimen never truly translated to productivity on the field, and ultimately his (early round) selection in the draft. The time that Devin spent/spends in the gym, coupled with probable narcissism, might be the reason that many refer to him as a ‘workout warrior.’ Athleticism is certainly something that’s becoming more and more valued in the NFL, but at what point does that pure athletic ability hinder the potential to translate to on-field production? So now that I’ve given you the ‘negatives’ to use as ammunition.......but how about what he can bring to the team
He’s not Desean....or Vincent....or Marques......or Stevie. He’s not the answer at WR, simply put! But that doesn’t mean that he can’t be an asset to our special teams squad(s), especially for new Special Teams Coach John Fassel, who’s put together one of the league’s best special teams in Oakland over the past three years. Hopefully, Fassel is able to bring that level of productivity and excitement to St Louis. Devin, after becoming non-existent in the Redskins offense, proved that he had some value on the kick return team, but nothing stellar, which ultimately lead to his short tenure in the nations capital. He was waived by the Redskins in 2010, and after a very short stint with the Panthers, found himself a New York Football Giant.
At this point, it’s likely you still know very little of Thomas, and have probably clicked on an ad with a masked man wearing a finely knit pair of whitey-tighties. Please keep in mind that I don’t see Devin as a potential WR prospect (though he is), but that he can add value in a bevy of other ways. Thomas may have finally found his niche on an NFL team. Most recently, he made two huge special teams plays that you could have aided the Giants in getting to Super Bowl XLVI. In the NFC Championship game against the San Francisco 49ers, Devin recovered two fumbles, one of which came in overtime (sorry Kyle Williams), setting up the game winning field goal.
The $555,000 that Devin made in 2011 probably proved to be a wiser investment than the $638,000 that the Titans spent on Donnie Avery. Neither have demonstrated that they were worth the draft selection, as guys like Jordy Nelson, Desean Jackson, and Jerome Simpson are obviously more relevant and productive. After Thomas’s recent playoff performance the Giants may try to retain this valuable special teamer, and he may not be willing to pack his bags either. With some sparkling new hardware, a head bigger than a Jumbotron, and an imminent desire to get paid, it’s possible that Thomas may seek residence elsewhere. At what price, I’m not certain. He has yet to prove he’s worth #1, #2, or even #3 WR pay, but at 25 years old there may still be time to get him in on the offensive side of the ball, and more likely, develop him into a special teams ace. He’s got the size, he’s got the speed and strength, but does he have the talent? Pairing him up with Chris Chamberlain could certainly add a much needed spark to one facet of our team. Consider this post a flux capacitor....go back in time if you want, but would you (or do you) want Devin Thomas in a Rams uniform in 2012?