The Green Bay Packers defense has plenty of hidden gems, and Joe Thomas has more than just his name going for him though.
When the Green Bay Packers signed Joe Thomas as an undrafted free agent in 2014, they were hoping for depth. They probably weren’t expecting him to blossom like he has, though. Thomas played sparingly in 2015, appearing in 14 games and starting none. In that time, he picked up 26 tackles, one sack, one forced fumble, and one pass deflection.
While those numbers won’t be turning any heads, they did show that Thomas had game. 2016 was a whole different level. The linebacker played in all 16 games, starting in seven of them. Due to his much higher playing time, it’s not hard to guess that his numbers improved. However, 70 tackles and five pass deflections are major upgrades. While he didn’t have a forced fumble, he did recover one. And while he didn’t have a sack, he did have an interception.
The South Carolina State product gave the Packers reason to believe they have another piece in to their defense puzzle.
It’s no secret that defense is the Packers weak point. In their defense (no pun intended), whenever an offense is led by Aaron Rodgers, the defense is probably the weakness. However, they were league-average-at-best in basically every defensive category. Yes, Thomas was part of that defense, but being that it was his first real look in the NFL we can forgive his part in it all. In fact, he was one of the few bright spots.
The Packers already have some stud linebackers in Nick Perry and Clay Matthews. With Thomas and fellow budding linebacker Blake Martinez, they’ve got the potential to have one of the strongest linebacking corps in the NFL. 2017 will be an interesting year for the 25-year-old. Julius Peppers is gone, freeing up some space. This gives those four a chance to run the show together.
The Packers defense may not have been great last year, but thanks to the emergence of Thomas, and Martinez, they’re heading in the right direction. Be on the lookout for much more from number 48 in the future. Before long he won’t be a secret anymore.