NFC West: Joe H aden

What could have been for Earl Thomas

March, 15, 2011
3/15/11
12:45
PM ET
Free safety Earl Thomas generally impressed during his rookie season with the Seattle Seahawks.

His range was obvious. He was a willing tackler. He showed an ability to make plays on the ball.

There were times when Thomas went for big plays at the expense of sound coverage, but overall, he looked like the player Seattle thought it was getting with the 14th overall choice in the 2010 draft.

Thomas picked off Philip Rivers twice, including once deep in Seahawks territory to preserve a victory. He picked off Drew Brees and Sam Bradford in the end zone. Thomas finished the season with five interceptions and he probably should have had nine; Football Outsiders counted four dropped picks for Thomas, one behind league leaders Aqib Talib, Sean Smith and Derrick Johnson.

As Paul Kuharsky notes, Football Outsiders defines a drop as a ball that hit the defender "right in the hands or chest" as opposed to mostly out-of-reach balls glancing off fingertips.

The chart shows Thomas' game-by-game interception totals. He was on pace for 12 interceptions through Week 4 and eight interceptions after making his final pick of the season in Week 11. His five picks ranked tied for ninth in the NFL and third among rookies behind New England's Devin McCourty (seven) and Cleveland's Joe Haden (six).

Related: Mark Sanchez benefited from dropped picks more than other quarterbacks benefited; and the Miami Dolphins' defense let 19 potential picks slip through their hands.

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