2019 NFL Draft Profile: UNLV RB Lexington Thomas
After cementing himself as one of the Rebels’ all-time offensive greats, can the UNLV speedster find a role in the NFL?
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Speed kills, but is it enough for the NFL?
Lexington Thomas made UNLV football an entertaining product over the last two years because you never knew when he would break off a big run. As it happens, he broke off enough such plays that he left the program as its all-time leader in rushing touchdowns and trails only Tim Cornett in total rushing yards.
The man they call “Lightning” now faces a different challenge in finding a way to the NFL ranks. Thomas’s elite speed is no secret, but but what else can he bring to the table?
Measurables (from DraftScout.com)
Height – 5′ 8″
Weight – 175
Wingspan – 71 3/8″
Arm Length – 29 1/8″
Hand Size – 8 3/8″
40-Yard Dash – 4.42
Vertical Jump – 34″
Broad Jump – 120″
3-Cone Drill – 6.95 seconds
20-Yard Shuttle – 4.27 seconds
Bench Press – 8 reps
There’s a good reason why Thomas earned his nickname and he proved it during UNLV’s pro day, when he reportedly ran a sub-4.3 40-yard dash. Lance Zierlein of NFL.com also praised other aspects of his game, however, citing Thomas’s field vision and cutback ability among the positives.
Fairly or unfairly, Thomas’s size is likely to be held against him because speed, by itself, isn’t everything. One measure of this, Football Outsiders’ Speed Score formula, would give Thomas either a 91.7 (if you take the 40 time listed on DraftScout) or a 103.3 (if you take the low 40 time reported elsewhere).
It also factors into concerns about Thomas being a pass blocking liability, as well as the more obvious question about what kind of workload he’d be able to withstand in the pros. Taken all together, it seems likely he’ll fit the niche as a change-of-pace back, though more creative teams may find a more inventive role for him.
It isn’t a perfect comparison, but it seems likely that Thomas will end up in the same situation as former San Diego State great Donnel Pumphrey, a small but dynamic runner who nonetheless had to wait for a phone call after the draft’s conclusion. Don’t be surprised if he pops up on an NFL depth chart come September, but don’t hold your breath that he’ll hear his name called on television this week.