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CB Rodney Thomas II Can Be a Swiss Army Knife for Colts

Whether at cornerback, safety, or linebacker, the rookie is ready to make an impact wherever he is needed.

When it comes to making an NFL roster, a huge advantage to have as a player is position versatility.

Players that can make an impact at multiple spots on offense or defense tend to have more value than those who can only play a specific role.

For guys on the back end of the roster, having position versatility could be the difference between making the roster and watching the games at home on Sundays.

The Indianapolis Colts are certainly a team that loves their players to have position versatility. With that in mind, it is no surprise why the Colts took a shot on this player to end this year’s NFL Draft.

With their last pick in the 2022 NFL Draft, the Colts selected cornerback Rodney Thomas II out of Yale with the No. 239 pick in the seventh round. Thomas is the first player to be drafted from Yale since 2018.

Thomas comes to the Colts with plenty of experience all over the field. He started 19-of-33 games in his college career, including every game for the Bulldogs in his final two seasons. Playing linebacker and defensive back, Thomas racked up 134 tackles, eight tackles for loss, one sack, 21 passes defended, and six interceptions. His play led him to be a two-time All-Ivy League selection, making First-Team in 2021.

Like the other seven selections by the Colts before him, Thomas possesses great athleticism. He stands at 6’2” and 196 pounds, displaying good size for a defensive back. His explosive traits are what make him stand out, running a 4.51 40-yard dash with a 41-inch vertical and 10’7” broad jump.

It is easy to see why Thomas was used all over the Bulldogs’ defense. His athleticism allowed him to play wherever the team needed him to be. He’s bringing that same mentality to the Colts.

“Anywhere, anywhere I’m asked to play is my best fit,” Thomas told Colts.com’s Larra Overton after he was drafted. “I feel like I’ve developed a nice skill set to be able to contribute to anything I’m asked to do, so I’m ready to get to work and help where I can, help where I’m asked to, for sure.

On the field, Thomas has a very high football IQ. He tends to diagnose plays quickly and can make plays on the ball. Thomas hardly seems to be out of position and can act as a “quarterback” for the secondary.

Thomas also has a nose for the ball. With six interceptions, a forced fumble, and a fumble recovery that he returned for a touchdown, Thomas played a major role in turning the ball over for the Bulldogs. With the Colts putting such an emphasis on turning the ball over on defense, Thomas fits in well.

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Oct 16, 2021; East Hartford, Connecticut, USA; Yale Bulldogs linebacker Rodney Thomas II (26) tackles Connecticut Huskies running back Kevin Mensah (34) during the second half at Rentschler Field at Pratt & Whitney Stadium.

There is no denying that Thomas faces an uphill battle to make the Colts’ roster. The Colts will mainly deploy him at cornerback, where there is stiff competition for the final few spots. While Thomas does have safety experience, it will be tough to break through that group as well. There is also the leap in competition Thomas must quickly adapt to coming from the Ivy League to the NFL.

But as mentioned before, Thomas has great versatility and can be utilized all over the field. No matter where he plays, he is just ready to make an impact.

“I feel like versatility is one of my best things,” Thomas admitted. “I feel like I can be able to play multiple different positions, multiple different things that I’m asked to do on the defensive side of the ball. You start off on defense but once the ball is in the air, you’re both receivers so just go up and try to make a play on the ball and get one back for the defense.”

With experience at linebacker and defensive back, Thomas can be placed all over the field depending on the situation in defensive coordinator Gus Bradley’s defense. While the Colts expect him to play mostly cornerback at the NFL level, he could also be deployed as a dime linebacker if needed.

The best chance for Thomas to make the Colts roster is to show off his special teams acumen and display his value on that side of the ball. For players who are on the fringe of making the roster, special teams play can be the difference. Thomas has all the tools to be a very fine special teams player for the Colts.

For players in the Ivy League, just making it to the NFL can sometimes be the dream. For Thomas he has much higher aspirations as he strives to be the Swiss Army knife that can be a contributor on the Colts for years to come.

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