The 2023 NFL Draft class is deep and talented on both sides of the ball, including the offensive line, where SMU guard Jaylon Thomas is a name to keep in mind as we hit the later rounds of Day 3 as a boost to an offensive line’s depth.
While most of the conversation has been focused on the top names in the class, what does Thomas’ scouting report suggest about his NFL Draft stock?
Jaylon Thomas NFL Draft Profile
- Position: Guard
- School: SMU
- Year: Fifth-Year Senior
Hailing from Lubbock, Texas, Thomas was a three-star offensive tackle coming out of Coronado High School. A two-sport athlete having also played basketball, it was somewhat surprising when Thomas picked SMU over Texas Tech, who also offered him a scholarship.
But at SMU, Thomas was quickly involved in the action, playing in seven games and starting the last six at right tackle for the Mustangs. Building off the success of his freshman year, 2019 saw Johnson start all 13 games, this time at left tackle. A second-team All-AAC member, Johnson got to live out most offensive linemen‘s dreams when he crashed into the end zone on a two-point conversion against Memphis.
In 2020, despite the shortened season, Thomas started all nine games at left tackle and helped the Mustangs record the No. 1 offense in efficiency inside the red zone. Thomas was added to the Outland Trophy and Senior Bowl watchlists while also receiving an invite to the East-West Shrine Bowl.
You could argue that no player in college football was more versatile than Thomas in 2022. Playing in 12 games and making 11 starts, the senior started at all five offensive line positions during the year and, in the process, allowed just six pressures, zero QB hits, and zero sacks while committing just four penalties.
Thomas, who entered the season on the CFN All-AAC top 30 list, was an All-AAC honorable mention and a member of the Senior Bowl watchlist. After playing in 52 total games, he allowed just nine sacks in his career on just over 2,080 pass-blocking snaps.
Thomas did not participate in any predraft bowl games or tests at the NFL Combine. Yet, he did measure in at 6’5” and 313 pounds with 32-inch arms and, during the SMU Pro Day, ran a 4.93 40-yard sprint with a 31-inch vertical, 9-foot broad jump, and a 4.89 shuttle.
While the measurements suggest he might not possess ideal length, what does the scouting report say are both the strengths and areas for improvement for Thomas as he transitions to the NFL level?
Tony Pauline’s Scouting Report for Jaylon Thomas
Strengths: Four-year starter who played all five offensive line positions for SMU. Bends his knees, blocks with leverage, and fires into blocks. Explosive at the point, keeps his feet moving, and stays square. Can slide in space, is very effective in pass protection, and works well with linemates. Displays good lateral range and shows the ability to adjust. Quick to the second level and can take out linebackers.
Weaknesses: Ineffective pulling across the line of scrimmage. Lacks overall blocking balance. Occasionally gets pushed back into the pocket.
Overall: Thomas was a terrific college lineman who must improve his finishing strength, but he’ll have a place at the next level as an inexpensive utility backup.
Jaylon Thomas Combine Measurements and Results
- Height: 6’5″
- Weight: 313 pounds
- Arm Length: 32″
- Hand Size: 9 3/4″
- Wingspan: 77 1/2″
- Bench Press: DNP
- 40-Yard Dash: 4.93 seconds
- Vertical Jump: 31″
- Broad Jump: 9″
SMU G Jaylon Thomas Current Draft Projection
While the body of work might be solid, making it in the NFL is a different story. It’s the best of the best, and there is a massive difference from facing some 18-year-old on scholarship who will likely end up doing your taxes down the road to lining up against Aaron Donald.
The 2023 NFL Draft is a good one if you need offensive line help. Some offensive tackles and even guards expect to go early during the first round but don’t expect Thomas to be one of those names.
On Tony Pauline’s Big Board, Thomas is currently the 29th-ranked guard and No. 397 overall. With a draft grade of 3.16, Thomas’ draft projection has him outside of the draftable range, and he would likely become a priority free agent following the conclusion of the NFL Draft.
The ability to play across the offensive line does give Thomas a leg up on others with similar expected draft capital. However, I would not expect to see him slide out to tackle as he lacks NFL length, and there are questions about his strength. Although SMU’s offense will be vastly different from what he sees in the NFL, Thomas likely will have his work cut out for him to land and stick on an NFL roster.
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