Former Hoops Star Could Be A Slam Dunk Mid-to Late Round Pick


Julius Thomas was a player we highlighted as a player that could blow up the combine, while he did fine, it was Virgil Green who stole the show. Still we think he’s a great value pick late in the draft. Bill Carroll of Consesnus Draft Services wrote up an article for us on Julius Thomas, which follows the jump.

A little bit about Bill Carroll is here.  

It is March Madness and as basketball fans rejoice, football scouts wonder if they might find a future tight end. Antonio Gates played in the NCAA tournament and gave crucial performances which helped Kent State reach the Elite 8 as a 10 seed by upsetting 7 seed Oklahoma State (69-61), 2 seed Alabama (71-58) and 3 seed Pittsburgh (78-73). His jersey number, 44 was retired after his basketball career ended. Jimmy Graham was drafted by New Orleans last year and improved so rapidly that the Saints released Jeremy Shockey. Graham played basketball for the Miami Hurricanes men’s basketball team from 2005 to 2009.

Graham graduated from Miami in May 2009 with a double major in business and marketing, and then stayed at Miami to take graduate classes while playing a season of football. Jimmy Graham was drafted by New Orleans last year and improved so rapidly that the Saints released Jeremy Shockey. Thomas participated in two NCAA Tournaments as a basketball player, boasting the school’s highest career shooting percentage before switching to the gridiron with 29 catches and 443 yards as a senior. Not quite as explosive or as big as Graham, Thomas recorded a 4.64-4.68 40 at the NFL Combine, he shone especially in position drills, where he looked like a natural tight end, and not like a basketball player trying to convert. He also looked very fit at 246 pounds, at Indianapolis he pumped out 16 reps, posted a vertical, 9’3″ broad jump, 11.95 60 yard shuttle, a 6.96 3-cone, and a 4.31 short-shuttle, 35 ½” vertical at the Combine.

Julius Thomas is a 2007 graduate of Tokay High School in Stockton, CA where he was a renowned basketball player who played only one year of high school football. Even in college, Julius was primarily known for his hardwood prowess and only began to take football seriously very late in his college career. In 2010, he caught 29 balls for 452 yards and 2 TDs. He did not register any statistic prior to his senior season. Thomas made a splash at the East-West Shrine Game, where he caught a TD pass and 2-pt. conversion attempt on back-to-back plays. Looked good all week in practice as well and likely made himself a draft pick as a result of his week of practice.

Thomas came into the combine viewed as a seventh-round pick or possible undrafted free agent. But his raw talent and the similarity to Gonzalez, Boss and Graham could push him up a round or two. The NFL is a copy-cat league and the basketball background isn’t going to work against Thomas. Atlanta’s Gonzalez might be the best tight end ever and he came from a basketball background. However he’s largely untested and raw, he has a load to learn about the niceties of playing receiver. He is somewhat of a tweener (WR-TE/H-back) with no clearly defined role at the next level at this point and may have a long and frustrating learning curve, especially as a blocker. Likely he’ll still need to add 10 pounds of muscle, it might be best for him to go to a team willing to stash him on the practice squad for a year. Thomas has the eye-hand coordination to consistently catch the ball cleanly and seems to have natural hands. He has a knack for getting open; he wins jump balls, and uses his body nicely. Has only played one year of college football and has absorbed an amazing amount of football knowledge in a very short time. He’s smart and will drive his coaches nuts asking questions about how to get better; he has solid character and is very motivated to make the transition.

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