Just over three years ago as he wrapped up his high school football career, Jeff Thomas likely did not see himself where he sits today as the 2020 NFL Draft is set to begin tonight.
Fresh off a dominant performance in the Under Armour All-American Game, Thomas was one of the most coveted prep prospects in the country before committing to Miami on February 1, 2017.
But after a Hurricane career marred with suspensions, a dismissal, an invitation back, and leaving his senior year of eligibility on the table, Thomas’ NFL future is uncertain at best.
ESPN has ranked Thomas as the No.43 wide receiver prospect and the 288th overall best prospect in this year’s draft. That could easily equate to the East St. Louis, Illinois native not hearing his name called this weekend and having to sign with a team as an undrafted free agent.
Can Thomas make it in the NFL? It depends largely on whether or not he can find a franchise willing to look past his off-field issues at Miami.
Former Miami coach Mark Richt dismissed Thomas from the program in November 2018 for failing to live up to Miami’s “high standards of excellence”.
When Richt retired from UM, Manny Diaz extended an olive branch to Thomas and eventually the two came to an agreement to allow Thomas to rejoin the program. That resulted in a junior season in which Thomas, who was suspended for two games in October, caught 31 passes for 379 yards and three touchdowns.
When an NFL team pops in the tape on Thomas, it can certainly find a reason to take a chance on him as a slot receiver or kick returner.
Thomas was a catalyst in UM’s comeback efforts in 2019 in a near come-from-behind win against Virginia Tech.
Thomas was one of the few bright spots in Miami’s season-opening loss to LSU in 2018.
Thomas is skilled on the punt return unit as well, as can be seen by this touchdown scored against Virginia Tech in 2018.
Watch a few of his shining moments at UM and it is easy to see why a franchise could take a late round flier on the 5-foot-8, 170-pounder who ran 4.45 seconds in the 40-yard dash and recorded a 36.5-inch vertical leap at the NFL Combine.
But behavioral and maturity issues in college causes some franchises to stay away altogether and Thomas will need to put those matters behind him for good if he hopes to play in the NFL.
Will Jeff Thomas be selected in the 2020 NFL Draft?
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