Player: Phillip Thomas
College: Fresno State
Scouting report: The Redskins’ biggest need entering the draft was at safety, and the team managed to get a pretty good prospect in fourth round Saturday. Some projections, in fact, had Thomas going in the third round.
He led the nation in interceptions last season with eight, returning three for touchdowns. The Redskins’ second round pick, cornerback David Amerson, led the country with 13 picks in 2011.
Although Thomas made 24 of his 39 starts at free safety, he can play strong safety as well. He has impressive straight-line speed, agility and anticipation.
Thomas, who visited Ashburn earlier this month, said he grew up a Redskins fan in Bakersfield, Calif., after watching them play on television. Sean Taylor was his favorite player and when he was asked about getting picked by Washington, he said, “I knew we needed a safety.”
Thomas missed the entire 2011 season with a broken leg and dislocated ankle.
Current depth chart: Brandon Meriweather, Reed Doughty, DeJon Gomes, Jordan Pugh, Jordan Bernstein and Devin Holland.
Where Thomas fits: With Meriweather’s status uncertain because of a knee injury, and no clear cut favorite to claim the starting free safety job, it’s possible Thomas could find himself playing a significant role in 2013.
What Thomas said about his INT total: “It’s just instincts, man. Being in a 3-4 defense [at Fresno State] that creates a lot of pressure and does a lot of different things, I was able to play a little bit looser, use my instincts and be the ball hawk that I always knew I was.”