The New Orleans Saints have a penchant for taking undrafted free agents and turning them into solid contributors in one capacity or another.
This year, the Saints could do just that with Stanford linebacker Chase Thomas.
After the dust settled around the 2013 NFL draft and folks began making their way toward the exits in Radio City Music Hall, Saints head coach Sean Payton and his staff were busy reeling in undrafted free agents.
Among them was Thomas, who was slotted by many to be selected in the third or fourth round.
Before the draft, gurus such as Dane Brugler over at CBS slotted Thomas as a Top 75 player, citing his versatility and relentless motor in pursuit of the quarterback:
Coming into the season, the senior’s draft stock was all over the map, some believing he was first round material while others thought he was a late round pick. But Thomas’ overachieving attitude and combination of strength and smarts has cemented his value in the top 75 range, and possibly higher as April gets closer.
Yet, Thomas joined the Saints via undrafted free agency.
It’s hard to peg down exactly why Thomas went undrafted. After all, in 52 games with Stanford he recorded 229 tackles, 27.5 sacks and nine forced fumbles. Last season he was an All-Pac 12 Conference first-teamer.
Thomas himself does not understand why he went undrafted, but he attempted to figure it out with NOLA.com’s Larry Holder:
“Maybe it had to do with my slow 40 time at the combine (4.91), but then again, I ran faster at my pro day,” Thomas said. “I ran a 4.78 and a 4.80, which were significant increase from the combine. Then you get other guys who ran just as slow or even slower get drafted and had the same production I had in college. I don’t understand the process. I’m not going to sit here and think about it too long. I’m just glad I have an opportunity to play somewhere and put the work in when I get there.”
Whatever the reason may be, you better believe Thomas is out to prove every NFL team wrong. He also sounds very, very happy to have landed in New Orleans thanks to you, the fans:
“I can already tell the Saints have a great fan base just in the amount of responses I received on Twitter,” Thomas said.
Thomas’ production speaks for itself. He enters into the fray at outside linebacker in New Orleans and will compete with the likes of Martez Wilson, Victor Butler, Junior Galette and more for playing time.
Of course, there is an outside chance Thomas does not make the final roster. After all, the Saints passed on him multiple times just like the rest of the teams in the NFL. The coaching staff obviously saw something wrong, but thought enough of him to sign him on minutes after the draft had concluded.
Either way, Thomas is happy to be in New Orleans, and fans may turn out to be very happy with his addition if he can bring his relentless style to the NFL adequately.
Thomas is certainly a player you need to keep a close eye on this preseason.