Defensive Lineman with the Most to Prove in 2018: Solomon Thomas
Ideally, the 49ers would have gotten a lot more out of the No. 3 overall pick from the 2017 NFL Draft.
Solomon Thomas’ rookie debut was a disappointment. Pro Football Focus awarded him with a lowly 53.2 overall grade last year — ninth worst among all Round 1 rookies:
But there’s hope for this season. One of the reasons Thomas likely struggled was due to defensive coordinator Robert Saleh asking him to play a variety of positions, particularly off the edge, where Thomas had little experience at Stanford.
Saleh described what Thomas’ role was to be in Benoit’s article:
"I know there’s always a discussion of, “What is Solomon?” Well, it was very, very clear to us and it’s still very clear: In run situations, we would have him outside where he can set edges and have a lot of one-on-one run blocks. If he can line up over a tight end, that tight end has zero chance. But when it comes to rushing the passer, his speed and quickness and strength is definitely made for inside."
What’s likely for 2018 is Thomas to play off the edge at the LEO 5-technique spot on base downs, bumping inside on sub packages.
This should play more into Thomas’ strengths. And if that’s not enough for you, PFF even ranked Thomas as one of 10 rookies from 2017 poised to bounce back after a disappointing debut.
If he can’t, though, the Niners may have to admit they made a pretty big mistake with their top draft investment from 2017.