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Brayden Thomas UDFA profile

I'm not high on former North Dakota State defensive end, Brayden Thomas. I think that both Matt Longacre (UDFA 2015) and Justin Lawler (7th round 2018) were better prospects than Thomas. The Rams lack depth at EDGE, which at least gives Thomas a fighting chance in the short term, but I don't see much upside potential that would make Thomas stay on an NFL roster long term.

Background

Shrine Bowl: 6'2 3/4'' tall, 259 pounds, 31.5'' arms, 9.5'' hands, 77 1/8'' wingspan

Pro Day: 6'3'' tall, 258 pounds, 32'' arms, 9 3/4'' hands, 78'' wingspan

Was lasted at 6'3'' and 260 pounds in 2021.

4.92 sec (40 time), 1.69 sec (10 yard split), 32'' vert, 9'3'' broad, 4.4 sec (shuttle), 6.9 sec (3 cone), 25 bench reps.

From Bismarck, North Dakota. Played at Division II school, University of Mary, which is in North Dakota in 2016 as a 235 pound freshman. Transferred to Division II Minnesota State Mankato and redshirted in 2017, was listed at 225 pounds that year. Listed at 260 pounds in 2018 and in 2019 for Mankato had 11.5 sacks and 21 TFLs. The only game his team lost in 2019 was the Div II national championship game. Studied management in college.

Transferred to NDST and played in 9 games in the spring of 2021 with 1.5 sacks and 3.5 TFLs, plus a blocked FG.

Was a 6th year bonus senior in 2021. In 13 games had 30 tackles, 14.5 TFLs and 9 sacks.

Some NFL teams reportedly expressed interest in him as a fullback or tight end.

Sports Illustrated: Power rusher, walks linemen backwards, sets the edge. Very little technical or athletic traits in his pass rush arsenal. One trick pony.

Injured his elbow in 4th game of season and missed games 5 and 6, was wearing an elbow brace on his arm later in the season.

Chad Reuter's 18th best available UDFA edge rusher.

Strengths and Weaknesses

Plays hard, gives effort to pursue the ball.

Was a DE in 4 man front, typically against the RT, but a few snaps against the LT, even on rare instances out of a 2 point stance.

Big frame, looks like he potentially might be able to add more strength or bulk and fill out.

Arms are too short, lacks effective length. Below average play strength. Lack thickness in build.

Not explosive. Sometimes late off snap. Was in rotation, not a full time player. Typically against the RT.

Lacks burst to get to the QB and RB.

Hands not active, heavy or violent. Doesn't shed blocks well.

Loses balance and falls down. Tends to lean into the OT.

Doesn't win at the top of the rush. OTs can shove him off balance, knock him to the ground or neutralize his pass rush. Inside and swim moves get stuffed.

Lacks agility and quickness. Poor change of direction. Not able to bend the edge. Not good on twists.

Defaults to long arm technique, trying to drive the OT backwards, doesn't consistently stress or threaten the OT.

Neither a great run or pass defender.

Not asked to drop into coverage at NDST.

Rams Outlook

Even if we assume Floyd, Hollins and Lewis are all locked in, the door is wide open for 4th and 5th spots at EDGE. The Rams already waived one of the other UDFA edge rushers. The other candidates are all on a comparable level as UDFA types, so there is a great opportunity in front of Brayden Thomas to not only claim a roster spot, but even be active on game day.

The downside is that even if he were to win such a competition this preseason, I don't know if he'd be more than just a placeholder until the Rams had an opportunity to add more players to that position group.

I don't think Thomas will ever be a great pass rusher, but if he could improve his play strength at the POA, maybe he could carve out a role as a backup strong side OLB.