With all of our highlight reviews of the Detroit Lions 2023 draft class complete (you can find a full list below), we have shifted to the team’s undrafted free agents to add a few more opportunities to learn about Detroit’s rookies.
Up next on the docket is Stanley Thomas V, a cornerback/nickelback/special teamer out of the University of Alabama-Birmingham.
Thomas is a legitimate speedster whose track background—he was a high school state champion in the 100, 200, and 400 meters—easily translates to the football field. He fielded offers from schools like Notre Dame and Purdue, but he opted to stay close to home after his mom was diagnosed with cancer (she passed away during his freshman season).
A 40-game starter, Thomas earned a starting spot as an outside corner ahead of his sophomore season and showed his toughness, playing through an ACL injury for nearly half the season. Offseason surgery cost him the following year, but he returned to form as a redshirt junior and would go on to lead the team in pass deflections over each of his final two seasons as a Blazer.
At 5-foot-10, 190 pounds, Thomas’ twitchy coverage skills have most evaluators projecting him as a slot corner in the NFL. However, Thomas’ long speed and ability to carry receivers deep could afford him the opportunity to stay on the outside. In addition to outside/inside range on defense, Thomas’ special teams background could be his best path to the 53-man roster. A former return man, Thomas also has the skill set to be a dynamic gunner at the next level, a trait he showed off at Lions' rookie minicamp.
- RB Jahmyr Gibbs highlights
- LB Jack Campbell highlights
- TE Sam LaPorta highlights
- DB Brian Branch highlights
- QB Hendon Hooker highlights
- DT Brodric Martin highlights
- RG Colby Sorsdal highlights
- WR Antoine Green highlights
- RB Mohamed Ibrahim highlights
Keep an eye on No. 4:
UAB Cornerback Starling Thomas V last season:— Zach Hicks (@ZachHicks2) March 30, 2023
- 37.9% completion percentage allowed in coverage
- Forced an incompletion on 29% of his targets (best in the 2023 class)
- 9 pass breakups
- 4.3 second 40 yard dash at his Pro Day pic.twitter.com/jOi5vb9m97
Some good from Starling Thomas. Love seeing good patience from off coverage. Good feel for throttling down pic.twitter.com/4glVjrxzzH— CROCKPOT (@Eric_Crocker) April 17, 2023
In the video below, the Bootleg Football podcast broke down the standout players from the East-West Shrine Week practices. They discussed Thomas at the 42:57 mark (which the video is cued up at), and the segment focused on him lasts for just under three minutes:
In the next video, former NFL CB Eric Crocker breaks down Thomas’ game at the 2:22 mark (also cued up):
UAB CB Starling Thomas V can scoot. Consistently hitting 4.2s on the laser — may be fastest guy in the class. pic.twitter.com/fnczqbSoVN— Ryan Fowler (@_RyanFowler_) February 23, 2023
Starling Thomas V plays with patience and has an insane first step out of his breaks.— Owen Straley (@CoachStraley) January 30, 2023
Off man-coverage in slot➡️weave to maintain inside leverage➡️settles at top of route, eyes glued to receivers hip➡️explodes out of break➡️arrives with violence for the PBU.
Starling Thomas V with more teach tape on Day 2. This time working from press coverage in the boundary.— Owen Straley (@CoachStraley) January 30, 2023
Stays square and maintains his inside leverage➡️establishes contact with the upfield shoulder to flatten the route➡️plays the hands for the PBU.
Patient and Physical‼️✅ pic.twitter.com/IeMoSfOSQc
Zay Flowers back in pads on Day 2 of Shrine Bowl Practices. Great rep here on both sides vs Starling Thomas V, working out of the slot.— Owen Straley (@CoachStraley) January 30, 2023
Great coverage➡️Better catch
Starling Thomas V has been competitive at the catch point all week. Two technicians at their positions‼️✅ pic.twitter.com/8o6fuoofiB
Do you want your team to take Starling Thomas V? pic.twitter.com/7zPbnVPg7F— Adam Kahle (@adamkahle) February 28, 2023