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Just four years ago, Solomon Thomas was the third overall pick in the NFL draft. He was a force on the interior defensive line for the Stanford Cardinal and the team right down the road kept him there.
Where they didn’t keep him was in the position he played at Stanford and according to Thomas that contributed to his never having lived up to his potential.
“The 3-tech is where I made my bread and butter in college,” Thomas said Friday over video conference call. “It’s where I feel the most efficient, I feel like I can be the extremely explosive, I’m quick, I’m really strong with my size and I’m really disruptive.”
He played defensive end for the 49ers, which often times had him rushing the edge, which is not where Thomas feels he does his best work.
Whatever the reason, whether it was where he lined up or otherwise, Thomas was an immense disappointment over his time with the 49ers. And then in his last chance to prove himself, he tore his ACL in the second game of the season.
Last season was set to be his contract year, when he wanted to put his best performance on tape and the injury basically made him somewhat of an afterthought on the free agent market. His redemption would have to wait for a fresh start. The 25-year-old Thomas feels like he has one.
“I’ve learned about myself, I’ve grown, I’ve matured into the complete person I am today, into the complete player I am today,” he said. “I believe in myself more than I ever have. And I truly feel like my career is just starting. I’ve played four years in the league, but I really feel as young as I’ve ever felt, even coming off an ACL injury and I feel the most excited and hungry as I’ve ever felt in my life. I’m ready for this. It took four years to come full circle and learn all this and really become one with me, but it was worth it and that’s how life works. I’m ready to go and prove the greatness of Solomon Thomas and what’s about to come.”
Part of why Thomas feels like his career is starting over is how Raiders defensive line coach Rod Marinelli’s plans to use him; back at the 3-tech, where he put up 12 sacks and 24.5 tackles for loss over two seasons at Stanford.
“Playing that 3-tech is what we see me doing and I am super excited for it, I believe that that’s a perfect spot for me and I believe I can really excel and help the team there,” Thomas added.
“I’m just ready to go. I’m ready to wreak havoc, I’m ready to get after it. We’re going to be disruptive, and I’m looking forward to being a part of this talented defensive line.”
As it stands now, the 3-tech spot for the Raiders could be crowded. That’s where Maurice Hurst plays as well as Quinton Jefferson who the team also just signed in free agency. And Clelin Ferrell is expected to move inside on passing downs.
Interesting considering Thomas sees this as a career re-start considering he’s going to have to earn his reps, something he probably didn’t have to do much early on in his career as the third overall pick.