Yahoo Sports' top 2020 NFL draft prospects, No. 11: Georgia OT Andrew Thomas
11. Georgia OT Andrew Thomas
6-foot-5, 315 pounds
Yahoo Sports draft grade: 6.21 — possible immediate starter
TL;DR scouting report: Thomas’ biggest issues with pass-protection technique are correctable, and he’s an NFL-grade run blocker from Day 1 at either OT spot.
The skinny: A 4-star Rivals recruit (and top 100 nationally), Thomas committed to the Bulldogs — and said it wasn’t even close. He won a starting job as a true freshman, earning Freshman All-America honors after starting all 15 contests at right tackle.
Although he missed one game in 2018 with an ankle injury, Thomas moved to left tackle and was named second-team AP All-America and first-team all-SEC in impressive 13 starts. Thomas then started 13 more games at left tackle in 2019 as a junior and was named first-team AP All-America, first-team all-conference and was the winner of the Jacobs Blocking Trophy, given to the SEC’s best offensive lineman.
Thomas, who turned 21 years old in January, declared early for the 2020 NFL draft. He opted to skip Georgia’s bowl game to prep for the draft and attended the NFL scouting combine, where he participated in all of the drills.
Upside: Ideal proportions and athleticism to match. Has a frame that still could support more mass. Extremely long arms (36 1/8 inches) and wingspan (83 inches) to help with recovery ability. Good base strength. Able to get to where he needs to reach block.
Excellent mobility — can sit back and slide all day long. Freaky flexibility. Movement skills were on display at the combine — solid to strong numbers in the 40-yard dash (5.22 seconds), vertical jump (30 1/2 inches), broad jump (109 inches), 3-cone drill (7.58 seconds) and 20-yard shuttle (4.66 seconds). Also looked clean and fluid in positional work in Indy.
People mover in the run game. Can erase interior defensive linemen on down blocks — delivers excellent force and precision on contact. Uncoils his hips and pushes defenders like they’re on a sled — when he locks in his hands, he steers them where he wants. Will seal the edge on outside runs at will. Brute power to put edge players on skates. Works nicely up to the second level and hits moving targets well.
Works double teams well. Hands are patient — waits to strike. Recognizes stunts and twists well and passes them off with ease. Here’s a great example of that on a key third down against Notre Dame:
Appeared to improve as a pass blocker — was up and down in 2018, and issues leaked into early-season action in 2019, but by the end of last season looked more consistently clean and precise. Wins in this department with good toughness, a strong base and ideal length.
Good spacial understanding — knows where his QB is and how much ground he has to work with. Rides rushers outside their arc or, if they get too low, just shoves them into the dirt. Improved against spin moves, which gave him trouble earlier in his career — now offers a stiff inside hand to stop those before they start. Stays fairly light on his feet. Great hand chop.
Put on a showcase in the Florida game, perhaps Thomas’ best last season. He put a lid on SEC sack leader Jonathan Greenard — who called Thomas the best blocker he faced in college — as well as Gators teammate Jabari Zuniga when they matched up. No matter what tricks they tried to throw at Thomas, he was all over them.
Watch as Greenard attempts the spin move and Thomas just stonewalls it before it gets started:
Experience at both tackle spots — right side as a freshman, left side the past two years. Operated well in zone- and gap-blocking concepts. Only six penalties in nearly 1,500 career snaps.
Experienced (41 starts) and showed steady improvement. Lights weren’t too bright for him as a freshman in the SEC. Team leader whose voice resonated in the locker room — spoke up when it was needed. Naturally quiet and humble. Was challenged by Georgia head coach Kirby Smart prior to last season to be more vocal and answered the bell.
Downside: Made gains in the weight room but can continue adding strength. Poor 10-yard split (1.83 seconds) at the combine and disappointing bench-press number (21 reps), even with long arms.
Leaner and lunger — has some wild reps where his balance and feet are out of whack. Still prone to leverage issues. Needs a “flat back” more often. Gets far too out over his feet and can get worked with arm-over and rip moves (which shouldn’t be an issue for how long his arms are). Oversets in pass protection. Gets his shoulders turned 90 degrees and can’t recover.
Hand placement can get him in trouble — doesn’t always have consistent or properly placed hands, which leads to unbalanced feet and poor lean. Can minimize his biggest advantage, which should be his length and reach.
Needs to do better job of switching “high hand” when rushers use countermoves — will often land the first punch and then fail to reset when they counter inside/outside.
Won far more battles than he lost in college, but technique concerns could be exploited with NFL talent jump. On the ground more than you’d like to see. Will get handsy and latch on a bit too long — wasn’t flagged for many holds, but could get squeezed more by NFL refs. Can be too slow loading up with his punch and miss his window to strike a target.
Thomas struggled with Auburn’s Marlon Davidson, and Davidson got him here on this slow-developing pass play for a sack by working through Thomas’ outside shoulder — and Thomas just can’t change the trajectory of the rush or anchor quite enough to stop him:
Best-suited destination: Thomas has played both tackle spots, which makes him attractive to many teams. He might be more likely to get a shot at left tackle if teams place more of a premium at that spot, but Thomas has shown he can handle either. Thomas appears to be more advanced as a run blocker at this phase but could develop into a high-level pass blocker at times with more refinement.
Among the teams we believe could be interested in his services include the Cleveland Browns, Arizona Cardinals, New York Jets, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Jacksonville Jaguars, Los Angeles Chargers, Miami Dolphins, Denver Broncos, New York Giants, Tennessee Titans and Seattle Seahawks.
Did you know: Thomas comes from an athletic family — and a musical one, too.
He has a pair of tall and talented uncles who played college basketball.
His father’s brother, who is 6-foot-7, played basketball at Samford. His mother’s brother, who was 6-8, played basketball at Stephen F. Austin. Thomas also played baseball and basketball.
But he also played drums and synthesizer in high school band and dabbled in piano. He told SI that he got into drums by watching the movie “Drumline” while in daycare.
Thomas’ mother has a day job working in lumber and hardware distribution, but she’s also a singer in her church choir. The two uncles — the former basketball players — both play bass. His aunt plays the keyboard, and his sister sings and is a flautist.
“I’m very musically inclined. Growing up in the church, I played the drums,” Thomas said at the NFL scouting combine. “My freshman year in high school I was still in the band, enjoying everything and my head coach told me I had a chance to write my own ticket playing football. I loved the game, but music was still very important to me and he told me that I have to put my focus on football.
“I still love music, but I put my focus on football and I’m here now. I played the drums in the band, but when I went to college I couldn’t do that anymore, so I transitioned to playing piano.”
And yes, Thomas found a way to double dip for a bit — band and football on game days.
“At my high school, I’d be at the pep rally,” he said, “and I’d be playing in the band with my jersey on, and then I’d go over to the football team and do the football things.”
They said it: “I go back and look at the film and there are things that I want to work on. There is never a time when [I was] perfect and there is nothing to work on. I want to always try to get better. The transition to the NFL, the guys you are going to be going against are ridiculous. I’m always willing to get better.”
— Thomas at the combine
Player comp: Laremy Tunsil
Expected draft range: Top-20 pick with an outside chance of cracking the top 10
Previous prospect rankings: Nos. 100-91 | 90-81 | 80-71 | 70-66 | 65-61 | 60-56 | 55-51 | 50. DT Justin Madubuike | 49. CB Damon Arnette | 48. OT Ezra Cleveland | 47. WR KJ Hamler | 46. CB A.J. Terrell | 45. RB Cam Akers | 44. DL Ross Blacklock | 43. OT Josh Jones | 42. DT Jordan Elliott | 41. C Cesar Ruiz | 40. S Kyle Dugger | 39. EDGE Terrell Lewis | 38. WR Laviska Shenault Jr. | 37. S Grant Delpit | 36. Jonathan Taylor | 35. WR Brandon Aiyuk | 34. EDGE Zack Baun | 33. EDGE Yetur Gross-Matos | 32. CB Jeff Gladney | 31. QB Jordan Love | 30. CB Trevon Diggs | 29. EDGE A.J. Epenesa | 28. RB JK Dobbins | 27. WR Justin Jefferson | 26. WR Tee Higgins | 25. S Xavier McKinney | 24. WR Jalen Reagor | 23. CB Kristian Fulton | 22. RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire | 21. WR Denzel Mims | 20. LB Kenneth Murray | 19. RB D’Andre Swift | 18. QB Justin Herbert | 17. LB Patrick Queen | 16. WR Henry Ruggs III | 15. EDGE K’Lavon Chaisson | 14. WR Jerry Jeudy | 13. OT Mekhi Becton | 12. DT Javon Kinlaw | 11. OT Andrew Thomas | 10. OT Tristan Wirfs | 9. WR CeeDee Lamb | 8. OT Jedrick Wills Jr. | 7. CB CJ Henderson | 6. LB-S Isaiah Simmons | 5. DT Derrick Brown | 4. QB Tua Tagovailoa | 3. CB Jeffrey Okudah | 2. QB Joe Burrow | 1. Chase Young
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