The tight end position has been changing the game since Antonio Gates came out of the Kent State basketball program to become one of the position’s all-time greats. It seems every team is looking for the next Gates, meaning a freak athlete who causes matchup problems across the board. Jordan Thomas may end up being the biggest tight end in the class at 6’5/280, but the former JUCO defensive end, offensive tackle, and basketball player offers much more than just size. Even the coaches at Mississippi State have had a hard time figuring out how to best optimize this rare specimen.
What He Does Well:
Thomas plays a few roles for the Mississippi State offense. He starts split out at times but will also be found in line with his hands in the dirt. His experience with the game and how he fits in over the past four years is as diverse as anyone. He still plays a physical game like a defender, looking to initiate contact with overwhelming pop off the ball. Several times I have seen him win the engagement with the defender at the point of attack via the initial punch combined with upper tier arm length. There is also a surprising amount of quality movement here, as the basketball days clearly did him good.
Where He Needs Work:
There is still an underlying sense of rawness to his game. Thomas is not given a lot of responsibilities in the Mississippi State offense and will even see long stretches where he doesn’t see the field. There isn’t a lot of quick twitch to his game and it is evident when he tries to block fast linebackers and safeties. He just seems a step or two behind when trying to move with them. As a route runner, Thomas has a ways to go. His feet get sluggish and he is slow to turn to the football.