Even when an offense executes a play almost flawlessly, Starling Thomas V can ruin it.
In 2021, Louisiana Tech had the ball on UAB’s 33-yard line late in the first quarter of a Conference USA game. The Bulldogs provided plenty of time for their quarterback, who delivered a beautifully lofted pass to the end zone.
But Thomas, a UAB defensive back, was in the exact right position. He batted the ball to the ground and shouted in excitement.
His performance in college seems to be only the beginning. Thomas will have plenty more opportunities to disrupt passing plays in the NFL.
Starling Thomas V Stats and Highlights
Thomas was a first-team All-Conference USA selection as a senior in 2022, but he had been playing since he was a freshman in 2018.
Last year, Thomas had 26 tackles, 16 solo, with one tackle for loss and 13 passes defended. In four seasons at UAB, he racked up 97 tackles, 65 solo, with 28 passes defended and two interceptions.
He also had one tackle at the East-West Shrine Bowl, where he impressed with his coverage abilities.
According to Pro Football Focus, Thomas tied for 12th in the country among cornerbacks who played 20% of the most snaps as he allowed 37.9% of targets thrown his way to be caught. He allowed 257 yards and three touchdowns and committed seven penalties while being targeted 58 times. The NFL passer rating on throws his way was 69.4.
Starling Thomas V Draft Projection
Thomas should be picked by the sixth round of the NFL Draft. He’s also being projected to go in the seventh round.
Starling Thomas V Draft Profile
While Thomas lined up mostly as a cornerback on the outside of formations, he easily could be playing more at nickelback in the NFL.
At UAB’s Pro Day, Thomas ran the 40-yard dash in 4.3 seconds, which would’ve tied the second-best mark among cornerbacks at the NFL Combine. He easily has the speed to play at different positions in a pro secondary.
He also had a vertical jump of 37.5 inches, a broad jump of 10 feet, 5 inches, a three-cone drill time of 7.21 seconds, a 20-yard shuttle time of 4.36 seconds, and had 14 bench-press reps.
At 6-foot, 195 pounds, Thomas is built to play in a variety of roles. He’s tough, fluid when he drops back in coverage, and is a reliable tackler.
Thomas isn’t afraid to be physical, especially in the red zone. While this could prove to be a problem and lead to penalties in certain situations, he’s comfortable when the ball is in the air, as he used to play wide receiver.
Thomas doesn’t overreact and is often in a good position to break passes up. He could earn a spot on an NFL roster and even a starting role in the near future.