Prospect: Shamarko Thomas, SS, Syracuse
By Clint Clearwater
NFL Draft Director and Senior Writer
November 29, 2012
Ht: 5-10 Wt: 210 40: 4.39

Strengths:  Explosive hitter.  Has no fear when delivering big hits; he typically throws his whole body into hits which makes him an excellent run stopper.  He is almost always looking for the big hit (which is a good thing but also can be a bad thing too).  Looks to be very strong; able to stop and often knock down much bigger players.  He is very quick and has a good reaction time.  Very good speed.  Takes good angles when in pursuit.  Has a good back peddle and fluid hips.  Stays low to the ground when back peddling and tackling.  Pretty versatile, plays all over Syracuse’s secondary.  Pretty good man to man.  Looks pretty comfortable in zone coverage.  Once he reads pass he drops into his zone and does a good job of keeping his eyes on the QB.  Effective blitzer with a high motor.  Looks like he is always giving 100% effort.  Obvious leader of their secondary.

Weaknesses:  Size is a major factor for me.  He’s not a big player but he plays like one.  He throws his body around with little to no care.  It leads to some big hits but also wears down his body.  For example look at the hit he put on Pitt’s TE J.P Holtz this year which lead to a concussion.  His reckless abandon playing style is good but it also will provide concern for his durability.  Also because of his aggressive play he often over pursues.  I find that he looks for the big hit a lot rather than the sure tackle.  These are minor concerns that can be fixed with more attention to the details of his game.  Block shedding could be improved; he allows blockers to latch onto him.  He needs to learn to disengage.

Summary: Shamarko Thomas is quickly becoming one of my favorite players in the country.  He has a remarkable story, and if you read my article on some of the players that stood out to me this season, you will see his name on that list.  He has been forced to deal with a lot of pain and hardships in his life over the last couple of years starting with losing his father during the summer right before his sophomore season.  Nine months later his mother passed away.  Now as a senior, he plays to honor their memory.  On the field he is an explosive defender who delivers violent hits.  He is an excellent run stopper that is strong enough to run into a pile and stop the runner. While stopping the run is clearly his biggest strength, his pass coverage is pretty good as well.  He’s got fluid hips, stays low to the ground while back peddling, fast enough to cover man to man and has good awareness and reaction time to play zone.  To play strong safety in the NFL you need to be a tough and explosive player.  You need to be able to stop the run or drop into coverage and defend the pass quickly.  You need to have a good reaction time.  Thomas is definitely a tough and explosive player, with a great reaction time and he’s quick and fast enough to cover receivers.  He’s got some technique flaws and he needs to stay focused at times while in coverage but he’s got a lot of potential.  His size and reckless playing style definitely concerns me for his overall durability, but he’s got potential to be a good addition to any team in the NFL.

Draft Projection: 2nd round

March 6th Update:  Shamarko Thomas had a terrific combine that really increase his stock for the draft.  I am hearing he is now being viewed as a potential 2nd round pick.