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Ken Sugiura

Senior Bowl review for Attaochu, Thomas

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Jemea Thomas, Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, Senior Bowl, NFL Draft, college football, football

Jemea Thomas finished his career at Georgia Tech ninth in career tackles by a defensive back with 234. Along with the Senior Bowl, Thomas is invited to the NFL Combine.

Former Georgia Tech defensive end Jeremiah Attaochu wasn’t able to take advantage of his Senior Bowl practices. Former Tech defensive back Jemea Thomas held his ground as he followed up a strong effort at the East-West Shrine game. So said Steve Muench, an ESPN analyst who was in Mobile, Ala., last week for the Senior Bowl and in St. Petersburg, Fla., the week before for the Shrine game.

“I would say he didn’t have the best week,” Muench said of Attaochu.

Muench tempered his comments about Attaochu by noting that the week of practices weren’t necessarily set up for him to excel. He was asked to play the “Leo” position by the Jacksonville Jaguars coaching staff, which is a hybrid end/outside linebacker position. As part of his positional drills, he had to cover backs and tight ends in space. Having seen Attaochu play this fall, Muench knows that he can drop into zone coverage without problem. Playing man-to-man in practice drills was a tougher assignment.

“That’s not really what he is built for,” Muench said. “That’s not his thing.”

Further, Muench said he expected to see Attaochu show more explosion in pass-rush drills. Muench acknowledged again he was basing his evaluation on a limited number of reps and that “it doesn’t mean that he can’t,” just that teams will have to debate the value of what they saw in Mobile vs. what Attaochu has put down on game video.

Muench said he gave Attaochu a fourth-round grade, but that “it wouldn’t surprise me if he went a little earlier than that.”

Muench said that Thomas “jumped out” during the Shrine game practices, which enabled him to earn a late invitation to the Senior Bowl. He said Thomas projects as a sub-package defensive back lining up over slot receivers. He liked the way he used his hands and was able to take on offensive linemen on blitzes.

“He’s got good feet and balance and he can recover,” Muench said. “He recovers fairly well. He was active against the run, very aggressive, filled hard. I think his size is more of a concern in pass coverage than run support.”

Muench said that Thomas compares with former Florida State safety Lamarcus Joyner, though not as explosive or athletic. Muench gave him a late-round grade but said that he’ll have a chance to move up, particularly if he performs well at the draft combine.

“I think there’s still a lot of wiggle room in terms of where he’s going to end up on day three,” he said, referring to the fourth through seventh rounds.