Cam Thomas

2010 Draft Grades: Chargers

Considering they only had five picks, its hard to imagine the draft going any better for the Chargers.

I definitely think they reached for Ryan Mathews, but I wholeheartedly support the decision to move up and draft him. They have every reason to believe they can be a Super Bowl contender in 2010, and they need a running back like Mathews to make it happen. He was the only running back in this year’s draft class that projected as an immediate starter in their offense. Even C.J. Spiller wouldn’t have been a good fit because he’s too similar to backup Darren Sproles. They overpaid for him, but it was a move they simply had to make.

In the 3rd round they got great value for Donald Butler. Linebacker wasn’t a glaring hole, but Stephen Cooper is nothing special. In fact, he probably should have already lost his job to Kevin Burnett. Butler has an excellent chance to see significant playing time this season.

I was surprised by the selection of Darrell Stuckey because safety isn’t much of  a need. Eric Weddle has the starting free safety job locked up. Stuckey could probably play strong safety, but I don’t see him as a potential starter at that position. He’ll likely be nothing more than a backup and special teams contributor.

I was shocked that the Chargers didn’t address their need for a nose tackle within the first four rounds, but they got an absolute steal in Cam Thomas. He was never terribly productive at North Carolina, but I believe he just wasn’t a good fit for their defensive scheme. He’s a prototypical nose tackle, however, and has a shot to earn the starting job this season.

I don’t have a problem with the Chargers taking a developmental prospect at quarterback, but I’m not sure Jonathan Crompton would have been my first choice. Yes, he was great down the stretch this year. But he was absolutely terrible for his first year and a half as a starter. Essentially if Tennessee had any other option to replace him at quarterback, he wouldn’t have gotten a sniff from the NFL. That said, he has NFL size and a NFL arm and he’s in a position in San Diego where he won’t have to see the field anytime soon. Its a good place to sit and learn.

Dedrick Epps will add to their depth at tight end and probably play some special teams. He’s nothing special, but he’ll be given an opportunity to compete with Kris Wilson for the backup tight end job.

Overall, I love what the Chargers did in this draft. They filled their biggest hole with the one player in the draft capable of making an immediate impact in their offense. They then followed that up by landing Butler and Thomas, who at the very least will provide quality competition in training camp for the incumbent starters at their positions. This is what a draft should look like for a team that is already in contention for a championship.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in Chargers, Draft Grades - 2010 Comments Off

All-Underrated Draft Prospects Team

QB – Sean Canfield, Oregon State
Possesses legitimate NFL size and can make all the throws. Only a full-time starter for one year, but he has plenty of upside.

RB – James Starks, Buffalo
Missed the entire 2009 season with a shoulder injury, but could prove to be a steal if he’s fully recovered.

RB – Lonyae Miller, Fresno State
Played in the shadow Ryan Mathews. A Big, physical downhill runner. Prototypical size and athleticism for a workhorse running back.

WR – Eric Decker, Minnesota
Flying under the radar due to a foot injury. He’ll fall because of durability issues, but could be a steal.

WR – Kerry Meier, Kansas
Converted quarterback became an elite possession receiver over the past two seasons. Limited upside, but has the skills to find a role in an NFL offense.

TE – Colin Peek, Alabama
One of the better blocking tight ends in this year’s class. Nothing special as a receiver, but will make plays from time to time.

OT – Charles Brown, USC
Nearly as athletic as Bruce Campbell, yet for more productive. Could be a steal if the falls to the 2nd round.

OT – Kyle Calloway, Iowa
Doesn’t wow you in anything that he does, but is as solid as they come. Projects as a quality right tackle.

OG – John Jerry, Mississippi
Has Larry Allen-like size and surprising athleticism to go with it. Could potential play right tackle as well.

OG – Zane Beadles, Utah
Versatile enough to play all five positions. May never be a star, but will be a valued backup at the worst.

C – Matt Tennant, Boston College
Maurkice Pouncey is getting all the attention, but Tennant isn’t far behind in terms of talent.

DE – Corey Wootton, Northwestern
Lack of athleticism means he doesn’t get the attention he deserves. Could anchor a 3-4 team at defensive end.

DE – Lindsey Witten, Connecticut
Impressive athlete who could be an instant-impact pass rusher.

DT – Cam Thomas, North Carolina
Perfect fit at nose tackle; rated higher than Terrence Cody in my book.

DT – Tyson Alualu, California
Would be a 1st-round pick in most other years. A three-technique tackle with similar skills to Gerald McCoy.

OLB – Larry Hart, Central Arkansas
Late-round sleeper with huge upside. Lacks ideal height, but has impressive athleticism.

OLB – Thaddeus Gibson, Ohio State
Collegiate defensive end replaced Vernon Gholston at Ohio State. Comparisons inevitably hurt his stock.

ILB – Donald Butler, Washington
Impressive athlete didn’t get the attention he deserved on a talent-starved unit in Washington.

CB – Walter Thurmond, Oregon
Athletically gifted corner coming back off an injury. Can make an instant-impact on special teams.

CB – David Pender, Purdue
Workout numbers are off the charts. Undersized, but has the speed and leaping ability to make up for it.

S – Chad Jones, LSU
The differences between him and Taylor Mays are minimal. Better ball skills than Mays.

S – Morgan Burnett , Georgia Tech
Has the size and athleticism to play either safety position.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 2010 NFL Draft Comments Off

Top Nose Tackles

Following up on today’s earlier post on Terrence Cody’s rising stock, here’s a look at the top nose tackles in this year’s class.

Tennessee v Kentucky1. Dan Williams, Tennessee
At 6’2″, 327 pounds there’s no question that Williams has the size to play nose tackle. What makes him the top prospect at the position, though, is his athleticism. Most nose tackles earn their living just by eating up space, but a select few have the ability to get into the backfield and make plays. Shaun Rogers may be the best example among active nose tackles, and Williams could certainly have a similar impact at the next level.

2. Terrence Cody, Alabama
Cody’s stock is on the rise and the more weight he loses the higher his stock will climb. He isn’t the type that will make plays in the backfield with consistency, but he can take on two or three blockers at a time. He lacks the athleticism to be a truly elite nose tackle but he can make an instant impact anchoring a defensive line.

3. Cam Thomas, North Carolina
Thomas was overshadowed by Marvin Austin at North Carolina, but he’s starting to get the attention he deserves. At 6’4″, 331 pounds he has the size to fit right at nose tackle in the NFL. He struggled to make an impact at times in UNC’s traditional 4-3 defense due to his lack of athleticism, but he should flourish in a 3-4 scheme at the next level.

4. Linval Joseph, East Carolina
There’s a significant dropoff in talent after Thomas. Joseph has the size (6’5″, 328 pounds) and strength but he wasn’t always productive even against lesser competition at East Carolina. He’s an intriguing mid-round prospect but he isn’t a sure thing.

5. Jeff Owens, Georgia
Not all teams will view Owens as a nose tackle due to his relative lack of size (6’1″, 304) but he is a short, stout and extremely strong interior lineman. If he added some weight Owens could easily handle the duties of a nose tackle.

6. Aleric Mullins, North Carolina
Mullins was never a full-time starter at North Carolina, stuck behind Cam Thomas and Marvin Austin.  He’s an intriguing prospect who has the size and strength to play nose tackle and potentially the athleticism to play defensive end in the 3-4 defense as well. He could be one of those player’s who just needs to land in the right system to reach his full potential.

7. Brandon Deaderick, Alabama
Deaderick was overshadowed by Cody at Alabama, but he too was a key member of Tide’s defense. His production was nothing impressive, but his size and strength are intriguing. He’s a developmental prospect who could be a late-round pick.

8. Travis Ivey, Maryland
Ivey battled injuries throughout his career and wasn’t a full-time starter until his senior year. His tape isn’t impressive but there’s only so many guys out there who are 6’4″, 341 pounds. He’ll draw interest in the late rounds or as a free agent.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 2010 NFL Draft Comments Off