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Published on 05/09/2008 at Fri May 09 14:27.
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CREDIT: empirewebsite.comToday we concude our look back at the 2007 draft class. As we’ve covered the past couple of days, Shanahan’s highest priority during the ‘o7 draft was along his defensive line. Picks #1 & #2 were both defensive ends while pick #3 was a good prospective OT that would add security behind Lepsis (who was making a return from an ACL injury from the previous season).

So, with that in mind Shanahan started Day Two of the 2007 draft and shocked everyone by trading both our 6th and 7th round picks as well as our 3rd round pick in 2008 to the Vikings to obtain, the 22nd pick of the 4th round (121st overall). More shocking than the trade for a 4th round pick was the actual pick – DT Marcus Thomas from Florida.

As before, here are some of the things Kyle and I wrote a year ago as we reviewed Shanahan’s only second day draft choice…

KYLE 2007: Reminding most Broncos fans of Maurice Clarett, the selection of Florida Defensive Tackle Marcus Thomas is full of controversy. Our second Florida Gator selected, Thomas is infamous for being kicked off the team in 2006 following a second positive test for marijuana and an unauthorized road trip to Jacksonville (his hometown). Athletically, he has the measurables and production of a first rounder, potentially about Amobi Okoye. But his off-field issues merited him a Day 2 selection to the Denver Broncos.

These [character] issues aside, Thomas is a phenomenal player on the field. He posted 4 sacks in the 5 games before the suspension (and remember, he is a DT not a DE pass rusher). He played at below 300 lbs. but would likely stay at his current 315 lb. range because Bates likes big space-eating Defensive Tackles. His upside is huge, but at the great cost of his downside (off-field incidents). If he is able to keep himself together, he could have the biggest impact of all our draftees in 2007 and beyond.

JON 2007: We traded several picks (including a 2008 pick) to jump into the fourth round and pick up a kid with an admittedly spotty past. On the surface that appears to be poor judgment; however, there are a couple of things to consider. One, Thomas is the right size and has the right skill set to fit into Bates new D-line. Two, he would have gone somewhere in the first round if he hadn’t missed most of 2006 because of his suspension. Three, there’s a friendly face already in Denver with Jarvis Moss in town.

I think everyone can agree he has a wonderful upside, now the 10 million dollar question is: Was he worth the price?

And what was the cost? Well, in 2007 we lost a 6th and 7th round pick. The Vikings used the 6th to pick up LB Rufus Alexander, who tore his ACL in the preseason and placed in IR. They used the 7th round pick to acquire WR Chandler Williams, who they cut before the season started, then signed with Miami only to get cut again. He is now listed on Atlanta’s roster.
I doubt we would have made either of these picks with our 6th and 7th round picks, but we all know that those rounds are hit & miss at best.

However, the most costly price we paid for Thomas was our 2008 3rd round pick. Who we would have picked there, I can’t even begin to speculate, but I know that the Vikings traded our pick to the Chiefs, and the KC then picked RB Jamaal RaShaad Charles from the University of Texas. Since he ended up in our division, it might be interesting to watch this speedy Longhorn (who has been compared to Tatum Bell in speed and style).

So, what were our thoughts on the high price of our new DT with a troubled past?

KYLE 2007: I don’t get the math, and it seems the Vikings robbed us blind, but Shanahan must have seen enough in this guy to say those picks were worth it, regardless of where he was actually drafted. In Shanny We Trust, eh?

JON 2007: If Thomas plays like his pre-trouble scouting report predicts and he becomes a Pro Bowl caliber tackle, then we all start talking about how we got the steal of the decade. However, if Thomas never becomes a starter or has continuing issues with drugs and curfews, Shanahan and company will hear about it all the way through next year’s draft.

Well let’s look at Marcus Thomas’ rookie season…

Thomas played in all 16 games last season (starting in 5). He racked up 30 tackles (16 solo), a pass deflection, an interception and a fumble recovery. That’s not massively overwhelming stats, but you have to admire the fact that Thomas seems to have his best games against our division rivals. He had his interception vs OAK. He recorded three tackles and help limit KC to only 67 yards on the ground last Nov, and registered four tackles (3 solo) and a fumble recovery on MNF vs SD.

Time of the meaningless player comparison of the day. Kyle mentioned that Thomas has 1st round talent and brought up Amobi Okoye as an example. So, for kicks and giggles here are Okoye’s numbers for his rookie season: 32 tackles (23 solo), 5.5 sacks and a forced fumble.

The sacks put Okoye ahead in my book (especially for a tackle), but our 4th round pick didn’t fair too badly against Houston’s 1st round pick (10th pick overall).

And now for the bad news…

Remember all that noise Kyle and I made about staying clean and making a new start here in Denver? Well, we obviously didn’t have Marcus Thomas as a regular reader last year because on March 1st Thomas was arrested in Florida and charged with cocaine possession.

Now, I’m not a saying this will destroy his chances to compete for a starting slot this year, but it most certainly didn’t make things easy for him. Especially, when this year’s crop of draftees come to us with squeeky clean records and Bibles. Maybe we can hope that our newest Broncos can have a little ‘comin to Jesus’ session with Thomas before the season starts. I, for one, hope he can put all this behind him once and for all and concentrate on playing football this year.

Now it’s time for you all to share your thoughts on Marcus Thomas!

Did you think we overpaid for Thomas? What did you think of his work last season? What impact will his off-season antics have on his career? Who along the the D-line will end up as starters this year? And will Thomas be among them?

Let’s hear what you have to say!

  • Kyle

    This team needs Marcus Thomas. Which means we need Thomas to stay clean. Our depth at DT, even with D-Rob and 5th rounder Powell, is paper thin.

    This is the year where we really take a peak at how well we drafted in 2007. All four players could be starting by the time the playoffs roll around.

  • E. Halsey Miles

    Thomas is a guy I’ve been really interested in. His suspension cost him a lot — he was considered rusty and everyone knew he’d need half a season to really get much in the way of playing time, and the fact that he started the last 5 games is, I hope, telling.

    I am excited for him this season; I hope he has a killer offseason, and that he and D-Rob form a monster duo in the middle of our line.

  • Jonathan Douglas

    I agree with both of you in regard to his upsides and I would love to see Thomas blowing up the middle of the line this year. I agree that he had some rust to shake off (as well as two defenses to learn last year – bates & non-bates). I also agree that all things considered he did very well his rookie year — which hopefully points to even better things this year.

    My only question is one of Thomas’ judgment. If you were given the chance that he was in Denver even though he had made some bad choices in college, I would have thought that you’d make a better decision than running around with your gangsta friends back in Florida this off-season.

    I think that in addition to any trouble he might run into with Denver’s font office (and/or the league), I think this points to someone who might just not GET IT… and that makes me sad on many levels.

    I hope more than anything that Thomas can learn from this and finally grow up, but since we’ve been through this a couple of times now (and with a couple of different players it seems), the odds are squarely against him. :(

    Let’s hope he beats the odds and learns to be a grown up and maybe even a team leader. Kyle’s right, we need Thomas to get it together…. badly.

  • kerry

    the thomas pick is great. he showed flashes of brilliance last year at the DT position. and he will be even better. and also i just saw on ESPN that the charges against Marcus Thomas on cocaine possession has been dropped.

  • studbucket

    For what it�s worth, Thomas was cleared of those drug charges.

    I still think he will end up being a solid pick for us.

  • Kyle

    I post at the psd forums, and was talking about us drafting him the whole year, last year. He always had the talent, it was just the off-field stuff that was bad. Anyway, when we traded up to get him last year, I was elated, I thought we just got a steal. As it turns out, he has proven me right so far, and I only see bright things in his future, especially now that the cocaine possession charges have been dropped. I think we have a future Pro-bowler in Thomas.

  • Denver Diehard

    I believe that this cocaine situation was a wakeup call for him. It caught him off guard when he was being careful not to screw up. I think Thomas did well last year. For starters, he had all that new money, more money than he’s ever had before, but yet he played hard and kept his nose clean all season.

    This guy knew going in that he was lucky to get a shot at the NFL and he made the best of it. He knows he can get better and knows now what a fortunate opportunity he has to make something of his life. This cocaine bust reminded him of what not to do and that he is way past his old friends for making something of his life.

    I have a feeling that we won’t hear of him into any more trouble, just great stats and a great football career.