Much to the surprise of those who follow UConn Football, Husky wide receiver Noel Thomas went undrafted in the 2017 NFL Draft. Even the most pessimistic UConn fan would have thought Thomas, who caught 100 balls as a senior and made some incredible plays, showing great catching ability, would have heard his name called in the NFL’s annual selection meeting.
Unfortunately, a slow 40-time at the NFL Combine hurt his stock and even though he did much better at his Pro Day and had a lot of teams interested, the seven rounds of the draft came and went without him getting the call.
Thomas ended up signing as an undrafted free agent with the Detroit Lions, where he’ll have a decent chance to compete for a spot on the depth chart. So far, a few days into training camp, the Norwalk, Conn. native has stood out, catching the eye of many in attendance.
Writers from Pro Football Focus, Pride of Detroit (SB Nation’s Detroit Lions site), and MLive have all taken note:
Noel Thomas makes the most of his reps. Goes deep for 6 in 7 on 7s.— Brett Whitefield (@BrettWhitefield) August 4, 2017
Reading my WR notes from the 4 days of camp. P-camp I had Noel Thomas as a good shot to make the 53-man. I feel stronger about that now.— Brett Whitefield (@BrettWhitefield) August 3, 2017
@alex_reno's camp crush Noel Thomas with a nice sliding grab on an out route.— Ryan Mathews (@Ryan_POD) August 5, 2017
Barnes vs. Noel Thomas is another good matchup. Barnes all over him but hauks in the TD anyway.— Alex Reno (@alex_reno) August 2, 2017
Noel Thomas just beat Roland Milligan on a 9. Touch catch, had to lay out for it, crowd applauds.— Kent Lee Platte (@MathBomb) August 4, 2017
Two players who have made my notebook for standing out just about every practice: DE Anthony Zettel and WR Noel Thomas.— Nate Atkins (@NateAtkins_) August 2, 2017
The best #Lions catch I saw today was Noel Thomas' adjustment to a poorly thrown ball in double coverage.— Nate Atkins (@NateAtkins_) July 31, 2017
There weren't many contenders.
Noel Thomas has been making some really nice catches in 1on1s and 7on7s. Dare I say we've found our new camp darling?— Alex Reno (@alex_reno) July 30, 2017
It’s obviously very early, and just about every team has a camp sleeper who fans and writers alike fall in love with every year, but undrafted free agents usually don’t get this much (Twitter) ink.
If he can keep this up, Thomas’ knack for making plays will give him a good chance to make the final roster. If not, the Lions would almost definitely keep him on the practice squad, but he’d be susceptible to being picked up by another team for their 53-man roster off waivers.
It’s not the ideal path, but Thomas is proving what he’s worth on the field and will have opportunities as a result, either in Detroit or elsewhere.
The lesson, as we’ve known for a while: Noel Thomas is good.