- Kevin Gemmell, ESPN Staff Writer
- 0 Shares
Michael Thomas is not one of them. He's one of those.
The former Stanford safety is one of those players spurned by the postseason bowl games and combines. Not one of them, the ones who get all of the draftnik attention and are perceived to be the next crop of elite NFL talent.
Thomas would be lying if he said that didn't bother him. And it should. Anyone who has spent 30 seconds with him knows he's a competitive guy.
"It was frustrating at first, waiting for invitations that didn't come," Thomas said. "Especially when you feel like you are on par with some of those guys who are going. I feel like I can compete with the best of the best. But you can only play the hand you're dealt. So I'm training hard. But I was disappointed that I didn't at least get the opportunity to showcase myself."
Instead, he's relying on his game film from 2011 as his résumé. On that film, scouts will see 66 tackles -- 41 solo -- three interceptions and a 62-yard pick-six against Washington. They'll see a savvy, four-year player sitting underneath on a slant route and then taking it back with a good burst of speed. They'll see good ball instincts, a team-high eight passes broken up, smart angles and above average tackling.
But what they won't see is the size. At 5-11, 185 pounds, Thomas might have a heart and a brain for the NFL, but his physique is working against him.
"The feedback I've gotten so far is that I'm an interesting prospect," Thomas said. "But because of the height, that's going to affect me in a negative way."
But Thomas has something a lot of other NFL hopefuls don't have; a pro day that includes one of the best quarterback prospects in more than a decade in Andrew Luck; three probable first-round picks with Luck and offensive linemen Jonathan Martin and David DeCastro; and a possible fourth in tight end Coby Fleener.
"My pro day is going to be my Super Bowl," Thomas said. "That's a good thing for guys like me because you know everyone is going to be at our pro day because of Andrew and those other guys. Hopefully it will be a great opportunity for me to improve my stock and draft status. If not, I'll hopefully be a priority free agent."
And if Thomas has to claw his way into the league, he said he's OK doing that. At least for a little while. He's given himself a timetable of about three or four years to put everything he has into making it as an NFL player.
Unlike a lot of prospects who like a change of scenery after the season and go to other parts of the country to train, Thomas is staying on campus. The sociology major will have a Stanford degree at the end of the year, and in the meantime he's working out with teammates Fleener, wide receivers Chris Owusu and Griff Whalen and defensive back Johnson Bademosi in preparation for the March 22 pro day.
"I've had a lot of success with our offseason training program here," Thomas said. "I feel like I've always gotten faster and stronger working with those guys.
"I'm open to taking whatever route I can to accomplish my goals. If I don't make an active roster after a few years, I'll hang it up and try to figure out life after that. I've thought about coaching and I'll always have my Stanford connections."