Samford Bulldogs quarterback Andy Summerlin (8) is sacked by Arkansas Razorbacks defensive tackle Robert Thomas (98). Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

NFL Draft: Q&A with Arkansas Defensive Lineman Robert Thomas

Samford Bulldogs quarterback Andy Summerlin (8) is sacked by Arkansas Razorbacks defensive tackle Robert Thomas (98). Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

 

With the 2014 NFL Draft only a few months away, we reached out to some of the draft prospects we believe the Green Bay Packers could target in May. We already heard from Kansas State safety Ty Zimmerman earlier in the week, and today, we hear from former Arkansas defensive tackle, Robert Thomas.

Thomas played in 24 games, including seven starts, in three seasons with the Razorbacks. At 6-foot-3 and 325 pounds, Thomas is an imposing run-stopping force on the interior defensive line, and provides some quick burst as a pass rusher, recording seven sacks and 10 quarterback hurries in his time at Arkansas.

The Oklahoma native can play either defensive tackle, nose, or five-technique defensive end at the next level. With the Packers needing to add defensive line depth to their roster this spring, Thomas could be a real option for them come draft day.

To learn more about Thomas and hear what he has to say about his game and possibly playing in Green Bay, I reached out to him and he was gracious enough to take the time to answer my questions.

Arkansas Razorbacks defensive tackle Robert Thomas (98). Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

Q. Tell us a little bit about your background. Where did you grow up, and what led you to play defensive line for Arkansas?

RT: I was born and raised in Muskogee, Oklahoma, by my Mother and grandparents. Really close family, first born out of my mother’s four children.  I am a college graduate, married with a son on the way in July! What led me to playing D-line at the University  of Arizona is the family bond that the players had there.

Q. You had a pretty good start to the 2013 season, starting the first seven games on the defensive line for the Razorbacks, but then you broke your leg and missed the rest of the season. How have you been able to bounce back from this injury, and what have you been able to take away from this experience?

RT: Through countless hours of rehabbing and training, I chose to stay stay and train with the staff at the University of Arkansas. The key thing that I will take away from the injury experience is that you never know when your last play is so never take any plays for granted.

Q. With the NFL Draft steadily approaching, what will you be doing over these next few months to get ready it? Any specific parts of your game you’re working on improving?

RT: My goal is to continue to work daily to get more athletic.  I am also preparing for my Pro Day on April 1st, University of Arkansas, 9 a.m.   Specifically, I will be working on my testing such as 40-yard sprint, pro agility, L-Drill,  Broad Jump, and vertical. I’m working to make sure I am in my best shape, doing drill work & cardio to prepare me to make an impact for my future NFL Team.

Samford Bulldogs quarterback Andy Summerlin (8) is sacked by Arkansas Razorbacks defensive tackle Robert Thomas (98). Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

Q. Tell us about the kind of player you are. What are your strengths as a defensive lineman, and what makes you unique at the position?

RT: I believe my strengths are my power and speed combination. I believe what makes me unique at my position is the motor (high intensity) that I play with.  I play every play like it’s my last.  I believe this makes a big difference in the game.

Q. Are there any NFL players you study or try to model your game after? Any you watched growing up that inspired you to play football or play on the defensive line? 

RT: Growing up I really watched a lot of Warren Sapp and Tommie Harris. I really felt like they help me to form my game.

Q. In college, who was the most challenging offensive lineman you played against, and what did you do in the game to keep this player from stopping you?

RT: In college going against Travis Swanson, one of the top O-lineman, made me a better defensive tackle and allowed things on the field to go smooth this season. Getting to work daily and watch film with my coaches and breaking down my strengths in film transferred over to my play on the field.

LSU Tigers running back Jeremy Hill (33) is tackled from behind by Arkansas Razorbacks defensive tackle Robert Thomas (98). Crystal LoGiudice-USA TODAY Sports

Q. The Packers may look to the draft to add some defensive line talent. What would you bring to their team if they drafted you?

RT: If I was drafted to the Packers organization,  I would bring a unique talent of strength, size, and speed that could really help me to contribute to the team! I believe my work ethic and mindset of “work to be the best” will be another key attribute I would positive contribute to the team.

Q. How would you feel about playing in Green Bay?

RT: Playing for Green Bay would be an honor that I would take great pride in and put my everything in to it!

Q. The Packers do play a 3-4 defense, so where do you see yourself fitting in this type of scheme? 

RT: I see myself playing smack-dab in the middle, the nose position. I believe my get-off-and-strike will really benefit me at this position!

Q. What will be your mentality when you get to your new team and begin your career in the NFL? Will you set any specific goals for yourself?

RT: I will have that same “work to be great” and “Gotta earn your keep” mentality that has helped me get to this point. My only goal I have set right now is “Earn a Spot!”

Q. Tell us a little bit more about yourself. What is your favorite thing about playing football? How about being a defensive lineman? 

RT: My favorite thing about playing football is just being able to compete; I am very competitive! One thing that I really enjoy about playing D-line is it’s not the glamorous spot on the field. You get to battle every play on the field, every play you know that you get to lineup against the guy in front of you with the mindset “I’m gonna physically beat this guy every play.”  There’s nothing better than the trenches!

Q. When you’re away from football, what do you like to do in your free time? Any favorite hobbies?

RT: When I’m not playing football I’m hanging with my wife and family competing in some way! I really take advantage of my free time to spend with my family.

Q. Is there anything else you’d like Packers fans to know about you?

RT: I am excited and truly honored to being in this situation and looking forward to the future!

 

Career college stats

2013 – 31 tackles, 6 TFL, and 3.5 sacks

2012 – 18 tackles, 5 TFL, 2.5 sacks, and 5 QB hurries

2011 – 23 tackles, 2.5 TFL, sack, and 2 QB hurries

 

Film on Robert Thomas

Robert Thomas against Florida: 5 tackles, TFL, and a sack

 

Watch more film on Robert Thomas and other draft prospects at draftbreakdown.com.

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