Dallas Thomas' versatility should serve Dolphins well
MAY 16, 2013 12:06p ET
Not exactly words that come to mind when describing a person who makes his living in NFL trenches.
Then again, those descriptions aren’t why the Miami Dolphins selected Dallas Thomas in the third round of last month's NFL Draft.
General manager Jeff Ireland focused on other Thomas characteristics: athletic, hardworking, eager to learn.
Thomas, taken with the 77th overall pick, has an opportunity to impact Miami right away. The 6-foot-5, 306-pound Baton Rouge, La., native played both guard and tackle at Tennessee, and the Dolphins need offensive line help.
“I fully expect him to be in there and playing,” said former NFL lineman Antone Davis, football coordinator for Tennessee’s Vol For Life program. “Obviously, a lot depends on how he comes back from the injury, but I expect him to be in there and starting."
The injury Davis mentioned is a torn labrum that he suffered during Senior Bowl practice in January. Thomas attended the NFL Combine in February but did not perform drills because of a 4-6 month recuperation period.
Obviously, the labrum injury was not a major concern for the Dolphins.
“I don’t want to put any timeline on their recovery,” Ireland said after drafting Thomas and first-round pick Dion Jordan, who’s recovering from a similar injury. “We certainly felt comfortable drafting them where we drafted them for them to make a contribution this season.”
Davis said Miami probably liked Thomas’ versatility at tackle and guard.
“It makes you more valuable to the team,” said Davis, who played tackle and guard at UT before a pro career with the Philadelphia Eagles and Atlanta Falcons. “The most impressive thing about Dallas is he switched from tackle to guard without complaining about it. Most guys, after playing a while at a position, don’t like being asked to change.”
Thomas was a two-year starter at left tackle when he moved to left guard so the Vols could get their five best linemen in the game.
“I called him in and I explained the reasons why,” said former UT offensive line coach Sam Pittman, speaking this week while on the recruiting trail for Arkansas. “I also thought it could help him in the draft.
“All Dallas said was, ‘I trust you, Coach.’ He got up and walked out of the room. To trust us meant a lot to us.”
Pittman said he spoke with Ireland several times about Thomas before the draft. Among the things the coach discussed with the GM was Thomas’ work ethic.
“He’s got a quiet demeanor, and he’ll represent the city of Miami well,” Pittman said. “He tries to learn everything he can as fast as he can.”
One thing Thomas has not been eager to do is get a haircut, something he hasn’t done in more than seven years. Dallas’ mom, Dawn, made a point to say her son has had his hair trimmed.
“He likes his dreads,” said Dawn, who raised Dallas and younger brother Donato while working at the family bail bond business. During the Dolphins’ recent rookie camp, Thomas’ dreads protruded from the back of a skullcap.
“Everybody has their superstitions,” Davis said. “I told Dallas he needed to donate his hair to Locks of Love, though I don’t know if anybody would want that stuff after playing football.”
Dawn Thomas said her son told her to discuss “nothing personal” about him during an interview. She did say, however, Dallas loves to go to church and is a good cook.
“Ask him to make you gumbo,” she said. “It’s not easy to make.
“He’s my gentle giant,” Dawn Thomas added. “Just don’t mess with his food.”
Charlie McCarthy can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @mccarthy_chas