Birthday: July 17, 1980
Strengths: Robert Thomas has tremendous instincts, and flies around the football field. You’ll often find him at the center of the action. His head coach, Bob Toledo, calls him "Cobra" because of the senior’s explosiveness at the point of attack. He’s big and loves physical contact. He’s also a defensive playmaker — last year, he forced six fumbles.
A smart player, Thomas plays the run exceptionally well, reacting quickly to a play and taking the quickest, shortest, and most importantly, best angle to the ballcarrier. Once there, he absolutely destroys opponents — Thomas is a big hitter. He anchors a tough Bruin defense and has the leadership skills and tempermant (bold, brash, cocky) you want from your inside linebacker. He’s also a three-year starter with tremendous drive and desire.
Areas of concern: The Bruins list Thomas at 6’2", but more than a few scouts list him at 5’9", so his size is a question mark, and possible concern. Thomas isn’t near as fast (running a 4.9/40) as the new breed of linebacker, either. He makes up for it with his instincts, but the lack of both size and speed could push him to the middle-to-late first round of next year’s draft, though he should be a solid first day pick.
Thomas flows to the action well, but has trouble fighting off waves of blockers, and can be overpowered.
Of greater concern, Thomas isn’t near as polished covering the pass as he is the run, and can thus be a bit of a liability on passing downs. Granted, he fills holes, stuffs the run and moves to the action well, but at some point, if he wants to be an every down linebacker in the NFL, he’ll need to improve his coverage skills.
Is he sponge-worthy?: Yes, but he likely won’t be a Texan. UCLA’s defense this year is one of the nation’s best, and Thomas leads it, so he’s likely to get quite a bit of ink as the Bruins continue their march to a possible national championship. And that means he’s moving up the draft board. Quickly.
Unfortunately, Thomas isn’t top-of-the-draft good (a linebacker hasn’t been taken number one overall in nearly 40 years), but he’s still good enough to merit first round consideration, so the Texans’ will likely only have a shot at him if he falls to the second round.
There are some good linebacking prospects set to be available next year, but overall, it’s an average class, so Thomas is only moving out of the first round if his play deteriorates, which, if it happens, could hamper his draft status.
Robert Thomas Return to The War Room
A guide to UCLA’s top-rated defense The Seattle Times profiles Robert Thomas and his older brother, former Oiler, Stan.
Robert Thomas Will Return To UCLA The Bruins’ official site reports on Robert Thomas’ decision to return to Pasadena for his senior season.
Time to shine The Daily Bruin Online profiles the brash, underrated Robert Thomas.