This past weekend marked the all-exciting NFL draft, where dreams came true and hopes were shattered, as player after player, each hoping to turn his passion for the game into a career, waited anxiously for his name to be called.
The seven-round NFL draft is loaded with strategy as teams strive to improve their rosters. Players who may have dominated the game at the college level may not necessarily be first- or second- or even third-round draft picks. With the draft come decisions made by organizations and coaches to select the players for the positions-of-need to solidify their respective rosters.
The ultimate goal isn’t necessarily to draft the best players. It’s to draft the players that are going to be the best fit for the team, adding a star here and a star there, to be sure, but also shoring up holes in the team’s weaker positions, with the objective of fielding the best possible team for the upcoming season.
De’Anthony Thomas, otherwise known as the “Black Mamba,” is among the many other college draftees who had a dream come true on Saturday. Clearly a standout athlete, watching his performance throughout his time at Oregon have Duck fans rooting for Thomas and are eager to see him play Sundays with the Kansas City Chiefs.
From the start, Thomas was recognized as a thrilling player to watch with the speed and tenacity he brought to the field. In 2005, Thomas played for rapper Snoop Dogg’s Pop Warner football team. It was after a 52-0 win when none other than Snoop Dogg coined the name “Black Mamba” for De’Anthony — one that has stuck with him thus far in his football career.
Thomas was described to be “absolutely electric,” by Cowboy exec Gil Brandt when writing about Oregon’s Pro Day. His numbers and stats are highly impressive and can certainly compete at the national level.
But with stunning stats, the only thing that has been talked about as a setback is Thomas’ size. Standing at 5-foot-8, 174 lbs, the Black Mamba is smaller than a lot of his competitors. Although size is an advantage to most in football, Thomas used his size to the best of his abilities in college and dominated the game not only as a running back for the Ducks, but was also a threat on special teams as a return man.
He has the capacity to get to the end zone in various offensive sets. When it all comes down to it, teams look at numbers, stats, film, and size, but something many people forget in sports is heart, passion, drive, and competitiveness. Thomas has the numbers and the film to prove it.
He may not have the ideal size for the pro level, but he most definitely has a bloodthirsty attitude. Point blank, Thomas is a competitor; he thrives in a competitive atmosphere and is hungry for the game.
Thomas has been interviewed many times regarding the NFL and the draft. Many of the same questions arise – his lack of size being of high concern. His answer, though, is that he describes himself as playing differently compared to his position’s competition. He can make good decisions on the fly and has mastered cutting through traffic with his speed and quickness at the college level.
At the Pac-12 level, he was one of the most talented RBs the game had. Looking into his future as an athlete for the NFL, Thomas is said to be a “luxury” for wherever he may end up because of his unique style.
Tod Palmer, writer for the Kansas City Chiefs, said, “He immediately provides a boost in the return game on special teams and could be an interesting weapon out of the backfield or in the slot for the Chiefs. He is a perfect replacement for Dexter McCluster and probably an upgrade.”
Yes, it will be a transition and a new style of play at the next level, but there is no doubt Thomas will be a crowd pleaser and playmaker, just as he was at Oregon. It may be a popular belief that bigger is better – but the reality is, that it’s easier to hit a large stationary target than a smaller one that’s slithering all over the field, ala his namesake.