Jemea Thomas enters the 2014 NFL Draft with a lot of late-round value to offer teams in the form of both defense and special teams. Thomas played all four years on special teams as a gunner on kickoff and punt coverage, as well as intermittently as a kickoff or punt returner. More importantly, he played all four years on defense as a safety and cornerback, starting the final 28 games of his career on defense. Thomas emerged as a major play-maker in Georgia Tech's defensive backfield, finishing second on the team in tackles in 2012 and leading the team in 2013 (including 15 tackles in both the Virginia and Ole Miss games). He had 9 interceptions between 2011 and 2013, including 2 in a huge Saturday night Homecoming victory over Clemson in 2011.
Much of Thomas's value to an NFL team will be his versatility to play so many spots, bringing experience at both safety spots, cornerback, kick returner, punt returner, and the coverage teams. In the League, one of his biggest concerns will be size. Thomas measured in at 5'9" at the Combine, though he was able to pack 192 pounds onto his frame. In the NFL, even with experience as a safety, Thomas will project as a cornerback due to his short frame.
It's been noted how versatile he is. More importantly, Thomas was very reliable at each spot, rarely making unforced errors or wasting opportunities. When catching punts, you can trust he won't drop the ball. When put in a position to make an interception, Thomas plays the ball and has proven very capable of pulling down the pick. When presented with a one-on-one situation, more often than not he's able to covert the open-field tackle. That considered, his speed is average to below average for an NFL cornerback, though he has the ability to make up some of that with his technique.
Strengths: Tackling, hands, awareness, strength, versatility, reliability
Weaknesses: Height, speed, length
Verdict: There are some things in life that Jemea Thomas can't really control, but for everything else
there's Mastercard he's a solid prospect. That said, size will be a major concern for him, playing in a league where a #1 player at his position will regularly be asked to cover guys 6-8 inches taller than him. What's worse is the chance exists that he would be asked to cover one of those guys who's actually faster in a straight line. However, while that's a possibility that exists, after watching Thomas for the past 3 years, I'm still confident in his abilities in pass coverage. He does a lot of things well that play a major role in making up for his physical attributes. Also, considering his versatility, Thomas can bring a lot of value to teams that look to pick him in the 5th-7th round range. Thomas has received interest from the Philadelphia Eagles, Pittsburgh Steelers, and Dallas Cowboys.