Detroit Lions: A tight end for every round

16 Dec 2001: Tight End David Sloan (Getty Images)
16 Dec 2001: Tight End David Sloan (Getty Images) /
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Ian Thomas out of Indiana has a story that is going to feature heavily in his draft coverage. Thomas’ mother died when he was nine years old. His father died a year later. He has been raised by his siblings since that point. He was a three-sport athlete (football, baseball, and track) in high school.

Athletically, Thomas is about as good as it gets. He placed among the best in this class at the combine in the 40-yard dash, vertical jump, broad jump and 20-yard shuttle. He is a punishing runner with the ball in his hands. When he blocks with good technique he moves the pile, and he got much better as he got more playing time.

That is an issue that will hurt Thomas’ draft stock. He spent two seasons playing at a community college. He was among the best junior college tight ends in the nation as a sophomore, but that’s a low level of competition, and some bad coaching. His first year in Indiana he didn’t accomplish much. In 2017, however, he stepped into NCAA Division I football. He had 25 catches for 376 yards and five touchdowns.

Thomas’ draft position is based entirely on potential. All reports have him as the kind of humble and hardworking kid that can make something of himself. It is entirely possible that his athletic profile and personality convinces some desperate team to take him earlier.

He’s got good hands, quick feet, and works well as an in-line blocker. As a move blocker, he has trouble lining up his target. His technique as a blocker goes to pot when he’s on the run. He doesn’t run good routes, and he seeks contact with the ball in his hands rather than running to daylight. I like a tight end that’s not afraid of touching defenders, you’ll notice Mike Gisecki did not make this list.  Thomas takes it to the other extreme though.