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2020 NFL draft prospects: Georgia OT Andrew Thomas

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Do the Broncos need a tackle badly enough to take one in the first round?

NCAA Football: Missouri at Georgia Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Georgia tackle Andrew Thomas will almost surely be drafted in the first round. With so much talent at wide receiver, he might even be there at 15 when the Broncos are on the clock.

Normally the best offensive tackle in the draft is taken well before the 15th pick. Only in years where there is little talent at OT (like in 2017), does the best OT in the draft fall to the middle or end of the first round.

Thomas has the just about everything a team would want in an offensive tackle. He is quick. He is strong. He has good feet. He has long arms. In fact, from a size/strength/agility/arm length perspective, he is very similar to Ryan Clady.

And there’s no question that the Broncos could use some talent at offensive tackle.

Garett Bolles will almost certainly start at left tackle this season, and Ja’Wuan James will most likely play right tackle. And if the Broncos pick up Bolles’ fifth-year option, both offensive tackles will be under contract for 2020 and 2021. That being said, both putative starting offensive tackles have questions surrounding them.

Bolles is, at best, and average left tackle. He is also the most penalized offensive lineman in the league over the past three seasons. He is, however, durable, having missed only a handful of snaps during his first three NFL seasons. Sometimes the best ability is availability.

James, on the other hand, is cyclical. He has a year where he misses much, if not all, of the season, then he has a year where he plays most, if not all, of the season. So, in theory, he will play 16+ games in 2020. Of course, that pattern would suggest he misses most of the 2021 season.

So with the questions surrounding the abilities, health and futures of our two starting offensive tackles, it does make a lot of sense to take one (or more) offensive tackles in the 2020 draft.

As the best offensive tackle in the draft, according to some, Thomas would be a great addition to our offensive line.

Scouting report:

Thomas’ coaches at Georgia referred to him as the leader of the offensive line, says The Athletic’s Dane Brugler. Thomas doesn’t talk a lot, but teammates listen when he does - probably why he was one of four captains for the Bulldogs.

”For offensive linemen, you’re looking for soft feet and load hands, and that’s what Thomas offers,” Brugler said. “It’s certainly part of his strengths. He holds his own in pass protection, he rolls his hips and introduces a firm punch at contact. He can overwhelm in the run game. He really gets after it. He does a great job at the second level. He can forklift linebackers out of the way. He’s a mature young man and someone who should adapt fairly well to the NFL game.”

What I’ve heard/read:

Andrew Thomas OT Georgia - Draft Player Profile | The Draft Network
Powerful worker in the run game. Does well to unlock his hips, accelerate his feet and create movement. Lethal working combos and down blocking. Long, physical and aggressive when pushing around SEC defensive linemen. Love how he brings the fight in pass protection. Has exciting moments of framing blocks, leveraging his hips and keeping rushers at the end of his reach.

2020 NFL Draft Profile: Andrew Thomas
Teams looking for offensive line help in the 2020 NFL Draft will certainly have Andrew Thomas high on their boards. An All-American all three seasons at Georgia and the recipient of the SEC's Jacobs Blocking Trophy in 2019, Thomas checks all of the boxes when it comes to what teams are looking for in a prototypical left tackle.

Andrew Thomas 2020 NFL Draft Profile | Tankathon
Video highlights of Georgia left tackle Andrew Thomas.

Andrew Thomas Scouting Report
Thomas was the most pleasant surprise I've had thus far evaluating potential 2020 NFL Draft prospects. The little I knew of him prior to watching his tape was that he had the size, length and athleticism that teams want in a franchise left tackle.

NFL Draft & Combine Profile - Andrew Thomas | NFL.com
Andrew Thomas NFL Prospect profile for Stats, videos, combine results, draft projections and expert analysis.

Why the Broncos should not draft Andrew Thomas.

An upgrade at LT would be a luxury. There are other positions of greater need that I think we should address with our first pick . Make no mistake though, Andrew Thomas would be an upgrade over Bolles. That being said, if it comes down to a choice between one of the top three WRs and Andrew Thomas, though it pains me to type it, I would opt for one of the WRs.

If the Broncos were to draft Thomas, and if he is, as I believe, an immediate starter at LT, then what do the Broncos do with Bolles? Bolles may not be able to move from left to right tackle (or to left guard) so easily. Switching from one side to the other of the offensive line is doable, but not automatic. You can do it, but it takes practice and training since it is an action that should be second nature - a flow from years of muscle memory.

Yes, Bolles could be moved to left guard and push Dalton Risner to right guard (or center), but again you run into the problem of moving Bolles to a new position where he might very well be worse than he was at LT.

Alternatively you could use Thomas at guard as a rookie with the plan to move him to LT in 2021, but I think that would make for a weaker offensive line than with Thomas at LT and Bolles either at another OL position or on the bench (as the swing tackle).

Why the Broncos should draft Andrew Thomas.

If we do indeed finally have our QB of the future in Drew Lock, then we need to invest in an upgrade at LT. Usually you are not going to find those outside of the early first round. Andrew Thomas is just that, an upgrade at LT. He is, IMO, the cornerstone to our offensive line for the next decade. Passing on him at 15 would be folly.

There is enough talent at WR that the Broncos should be able to find the complement for Courtland Sutton in the second round. The recent history of first round wide receivers has been lackluster with none of them making the Pro-Bowl since Amari Cooper, who was drafted in 2015. Getting Thomas in the first and someone like Denzel Mims or Justin Jefferson in the second to me is adding more to the team than getting Henry Ruggs in the first at 15 and then getting someone like Josh Jones or Austin Jackson in the second round.

Much of this depends on how you view Thomas, though. I see him as the best offensive tackle in the draft. While others rank him fourth behind Jedrick Wills, Tristan Wirfs and Mehki Becton.

Poll

If the Broncos take a WR and an OT in the first round and second round, what is your preferred order for getting one of each?

This poll is closed

  • 31%
    WR in the first, OT in the second
    (146 votes)
  • 47%
    OT in the first, WR in the second
    (224 votes)
  • 5%
    trade back and get more picks, then take WR then OT both in the second
    (24 votes)
  • 4%
    trade back and get more picks, then take OT then WR in the second
    (22 votes)
  • 10%
    Trade back with someone that would allow us to get three 2020 second round picks, take two WRs and one OT in the second round.
    (51 votes)
467 votes total Vote Now