When the Miami Dolphins traded up to select Kansas State RB Daniel Thomas with the 62nd overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, they were hoping to gain a physical, bruising running back that was able to pick up the tough yards and mow down defenses. Thomas was very consistent in college, rushing for over 1,200 yards and averaging 10 TD’s in each of his two seasons with the Wildcats. The Dolphins drafted Thomas hoping that this consistency would carry over into his pro career.
Instead of the consistent, bruising back he was in college, Thomas has yet to really perform up to his potential, and has been plagued with “fumbilitis” throughout the early portion of his NFL career. One week he will put up great numbers and run with the same intensity and fearlessness as he did in college, only to run equally as tentative and lackluster the next week. He will have great games as primarily a goal-line and short yardage back and struggle on 1st and 2nd downs. In Sunday’s win over the San Diego Chargers I saw the side of Daniel Thomas that resembled the 6 foot 1, 233 pound running back during his college days at K State.
Thomas hit nearly every hole at full speed. He did not shy away from contact, but rather embraced it, eager and hungry for an extra 2 or 3 yards on each of his runs. On a goal-line run, Thomas jumped as high as he could and held on to the football, ultimately landing with six crucial points for the Dolphins. His numbers were not stellar (10 touches for 57 yards and a TD), though he did average 5.7 yards a carry, something Thomas has struggled with over his career. What really stood out to me regarding the young back’s performance was his desire and energy level. He looked hungry and was willing to do whatever it took to pick up a first down or gain as many yards as he possibly could. He looked motivated and more importantly, confident.
I don’t know what flipped the switch in Thomas’s attitude and performance, whether it was an inspirational talk from the coaching staff or a better pregame meal. Regardless, Thomas showed that he does still have that bruising and physical fire still inside of him, and when he chooses to unleash it, he can perform at a high level.
With the recent troubles along Miami’s offensive line and the inconsistency to Lamar Miller, Thomas will need to perform like he did against the Chargers to help both Ryan Tannehill and this Dolphins offense succeed. If he can work on his consistency, I think he has a lot of running left to do in this league.