This month, we've been carrying out an in-depth review of all of the Jets undrafted free agents. Today we move on to look at defensive tackle Mychealon "Big Mych" Thomas.
Thomas is listed at 6-foot-1 and 325 pounds and was undrafted out of Texas Tech. He was an honorable mention all-Big XII selection last season, having been a junior college transfer back in 2016.
Thomas was a three-star recruit out of high school but ended up attending Butler Community College at the JUCO level. In his first season, Thomas recorded 21 tackles, half a sack and a fumble recovery in eight games.
In 2015, he stepped up his production with 39 tackles and four sacks in 11 games. At the end of the season, he transferred to Texas Tech.
He had a reserve role in his junior year and recorded just eight tackles. However, when starter Breiden Fehoko transferred out at the end of the year, he moved into the starting line-up for 2017. He responded well to being a starter, racking up 41 tackles, a sack and an interception, as well as recovering two fumbles.
Thomas was not invited to the combine and was signed by the Jets after he was not selected in the draft.
Let's take a closer look at what Thomas brings to the table, divided into categories.
Thomas weighed in at 319 at his pro day and most of his numbers were about average for an interior lineman.
He showcased his strength with 29 bench press reps and his agility numbers were slightly above average, while his speed and explosiveness numbers were slightly below. He ran a 5.25 in the 40-yard dash.
Thomas played both as a nose tackle and as a 3-4 end in Texas Tech's 3-4 system and also played in two-man fronts in some packages. He likely projects best to nose tackle at the NFL level.
Thomas is able to handle a big workload and keep playing with good energy. He played almost 800 snaps in 2017.
Here's an example from his junior college days as he keeps working to chase down the quarterback after he almost breaks into the clear:
Thomas had a significant role in Texas Tech's run defense in 2016, which was one of the worst in the nation. D'Onta Foreman rushed for 340 yards against them, for example. However, his performance as a starter in 2017 has been cited as a major reason for their improvement.
Thomas plugs gaps and takes on double teams well. Pro Football Focus had him grading out as their fifth best interior lineman against the run at midseason and although he wasn't quite as dominant in the second half of the year he continued to be solid.
This play from 2016 shows him getting badly driven off the line on the right side:
However, he held up a lot stronger in 2017, including on this play where he shed a block well to stuff this run:
Thomas does most of his best work inside. He doesn't display much range in terms of pursuing runs to the outside.
Thomas holds up well in short yardage situations, often just standing his man up and leveraging his way into the hole. On this play, he burst into the backfield and then wrapped up the runner from behind:
Thomas doesn't produce much as a pass rusher, but still saw plenty of action in pass rushing situations, where his role was usually just to drive his man back to collapse the pocket.
He had some good success in terms of creating pressure by driving his man back into the quarterback's lap, which he did several times in the game against Houston - a game in which his performance compared favorably to that of all-American Ed Oliver on the other side.
This was his only sack while at Texas Tech, but shows impressive explosion and closing burst:
He had 4.5 sacks in two years at Butler CC, with four of them coming in 2015.
Thomas works with good pad level, which gives him good leverage and makes him tough to move. Here's an excellent example of that:
There are times when he'll be caught on a block, but he flashes the ability to shed and stack. That seems to be an area which is developing for him and it could help him to ascend quickly if he responds well to pro-level coaching to improve his hand placement techniques.
On one play last season, he was called for a 15-yard penalty for illegal use of the hands, as he had his hands too high while attempting to drive back his man.
Thomas was a very productive tackler in 2017, especially considering that he was playing inside. That came after a 2016 season where he wasn't remotely productive with just eight tackles in almost 300 snaps.
Most of the time he's just bottling up runs on the inside, but he does wrap up ball carriers well when given the chance.
Thomas didn't miss many tackles while at Texas Tech, but he should have had a sack on this stunt:
Thomas only dropped into coverage a few times at Texas Tech but showed good awareness and athleticism to disrupt this pass:
He intercepted a pass last season as he reacted well to a pass that was batted straight up in the air and came down with it in a crowd.
Thomas was only credited with one pass defensed at Texas Tech, as he batted down this Baker Mayfield throw:
He also deflected one other pass, against Baylor, but perhaps doesn't get his hands up as often as you'd like to see.
There were some occasions where Thomas was engaged with his block and the ball carrier ran right past him, perhaps because he was preoccupied with winning the battle in the trenches and didn't see the play unfold.
However, when he employs the correct technique and uses his length to allow him to stand up his man, this has a positive effect:
That may be another area where he needs to improve his consistency, but plays like the one above show good two-gapping potential.
He otherwise didn't seem to blow any obvious assignments or make mental errors.
Thomas is unlikely to offer much on special teams, although he was credited with one blocked kick while at Butler.
Thomas is energetic and stepped up well to the challenge of moving into the starting line-up last year, as well as making the transition from the JUCO level.
On the field, he doesn't get called for many penalties. He had just two in 2017, but he got a bit reckless on this roughing the passer call:
Thomas started all 13 games last season, although he was pulled from one with an ankle issue. He missed a few games in the previous three years, but the reasons for his absence were undisclosed and he still played in 29 games so there was nothing serious.
Based on the current depth chart, Thomas' best chance of making the team is probably at the nose tackle position. The team has already said that Foley Fatukasi - who shares his ability to stuff the run inside, but is a little lighter with more length - will play at defensive end.
If that's the role they have earmarked for Thomas, he'll be up against Deon Simon, who is now 27, for a potential back-up role but there may not be room for either of them. The Jets will probably use Mike Pennel and Steve McLendon as their nose tackles this year, with both also capable of playing end.
Thomas wasn't really a dominant collegiate player, but did a solid job last year and shows the potential to develop into a role player at a higher level. His film shows flashes of ability that suggest he might be a good candidate to keep in the program as a longer term project.
As with most of the undrafted free agents, Thomas' best chance of sticking around is probably to earn a practice squad spot this year.