Xavier Thomas 2023 NFL Draft Scouting Report
- Consensus top-five overall recruit in the country coming out of high school
- 2020 season was compromised on account of side effects of both COVID-19 and strep throat
- Enters 2022 college season with more than 1,300 snaps played across 46 games
- Scheme tendencies: Even front defense with a blend of games and gap exchanges up front.
- 2022 projected role: Rotational EDGE, designated pass rusher
Pros: The bright flashes of disruptiveness on film are hard to miss. Xavier Thomas is a player with a surprising level of burst for his density as a player. He’s thickly built but capable of exploding off the edge and attacking the mesh point. He has made a number of big plays off the back side of the front when being left unblocked by design—opposing OCs make note! I appreciate the linear explosiveness and first-step quickness and I think that’s an area of his game that can be featured as a designated pass-rush specialist. I currently like Thomas the most as a positionless defender to serve in a subpackage role to heat up opposing passers. Doing this would allow you to emulate some of the components that Clemson has called upon to create production for him as a disruptive presence. You’ve seen snaps inside as a 4i, stand-up outside linebacker drops into space, and plenty of true defensive end reps as well. Putting his low build and initial quickness in all of these places—particularly when you want to simulate or dial-up pressure—feels like the best way to weaponize him. If this becomes his path, I think you could find some more dynamic athleticism by dropping him down in size a bit from his current listed weight of 265.
Cons: Xavier Thomas’ appeal comes when he is allowed to utilize his initial quickness and attack the backfield. He’s something of a challenge when looking at him through the lens of traditional roles—he’s something of a tweener as a player and I don’t currently have a great deal of conviction for an early-down role in his future in the NFL. He can rush the passer and be productive; I have no questions about that. But I do think he’s more of a defensive weapon who would thrive in blitz-heavy systems that look to manipulate his skills by moving him around to find matchups or scheme pressures. He hasn’t shown a great deal of ability to negotiate blocks and create added separation when he’s forced to stack or defend the run and I don’t see the kind of stack and separation skills at the point of attack to feel confident in him playing gap-control reps at this point either. And, as an older prospect, I’m uncertain of how much further developmental growth there is to tap into. I almost like him best as a supersized version of 2022 third-round draft choice DeAngelo Malone—can Thomas fulfill the same versatility of roles at his stature? Because I feel that he’s scheme-specific and not a plug-and-play defender, that will cut down on the ceiling of his projection at this point in time.
Xavier Thomas NFL Draft Scouting Report by Kyle Crabbs