Online exclusive: PSU graduate Julius Thomas works out at NFL combine

Recent PSU graduate Julius Thomas played four years of basketball for the Viks and wasn’t finished.

Recent PSU graduate Julius Thomas played four years of basketball for the Viks and wasn’t finished. The senior headed into a single season of Viking football and from there gained enough national attention to be invited to the 2011 NFL Combine. The Combine is a six-day event where NFL scouts view the top NCAA football athletes as they compete in workouts and drills, testing everything from their physical strength to their knowledge of the game.

Prior to his invitation to the Combine, Thomas was first invited to the East-West Shrine Game, an earlier national level opportunity for collegiate athletes to be viewed by NFL scouts. Thomas caught the only touchdown and two point conversion that the West scored that game, drawing big attention to his little known football career.

Thomas may have had just one year to prove himself on the field, but he made the best of that single season. He was named to the first team All-Big Sky in his lone 2010 football year with the Vikings. On top of his gridiron accomplishments, Thomas also made the Big Sky All-Tournament team for basketball in two previous seasons.

Although the former Vikings tight-end may only hold a single season of tapes compared to his counterpart athletes, Thomas still has been cited to have a possibility of a seventh round pick in the upcoming NFL draft. For instance, all other players with connections to Oregon have played at least four years of college football. 

According to a statement released by the school, “Thomas is currently projected as a seventh-round draft pick who could possibly go as high as the fifth round.”

Thomas’ limited football experience seems to be one of the major setbacks the tight end is facing, but even with the narrow scope of football history, he still has notable strengths in speed and agility that came from his four years on the basketball court. According to the NFL Combine news report, the 6-foot-5, 246 lb player also has the physical size to perform on a professional level.

The NFL Combine’s overview of his performance from the weekend notes that Thomas’ strengths are his vertical leap, which he was labeled as a “top performer” with his fifth place finish among the tight ends, recording a 35.5-inch jump. The tight end’s strengths are also his speed and agility while running—he placed sixth in the 40-yard dash with a time of 4.68 seconds.

According to his overview from the NFL Combine website, “(Thomas) does a good job in his stem, (he) can separate from man coverage, and get vertical jump off the seam,” His overview goes onto describe Thomas’ weaknesses, “But (Thomas) rounds off routes and lacks the experience to get open against zones.”

Thomas is among 17 other tight end athletes looking to catch the eye of scouts and coaches. He is joined at the Combine by two other Big Sky players, neither of which competed against Thomas at the tight end position.

Thomas is anticipating positive results from his weekend at the Combine. He said in a statement to the Oregonian, “Ever since the season ended I’ve been preparing myself to make a career out of this. This is definitely something I’m looking forward to. I’m really excited about the possibilities.”

The NFL Combine separates workouts and testing by position, meaning Thomas and his fellow tight ends, already completed their workouts by Saturday. The Combine will wrap up today, March 1, with defensive backs running the final drills.

Thomas may only be projected as a “late-round prospect,” but he’s a prospect none-the-less. If Thomas is drafted, he will join the list of 25 former Portland State football players that have gone on to compete at a professional level. 


Thomas’ results among the top-ten for tight ends

40-yard dash: 6th in 4.68 seconds

Vertical Jump: 5th with 35.5 inches

3-cone drill: 7th in 6.96 seconds

20-yard shuttle: 8th in 4.31 seconds

60-yard shuttle: 8th 11.95 seconds

*Note did not place in top-ten in broad jump or bench press