The Cleveland Browns drafted Chad Thomas in the third round of the 2018 NFL Draft but he rarely played, and it could have been because of Gregg Williams.
The Cleveland Browns’ selection of defensive end Chad Thomas in the third round of the 2018 NFL Draft was a curious move as soon as it happened. Although he flashed potential and plenty of athletic ability in college, he struggled with inconsistency.
But general manager John Dorsey seemed confident in his selection and believed where they selected Thomas was the perfect spot in terms of value.
Despite the front office’s confidence in Thomas, it did not equate to success on the field for the 23-year-old. In fact, Thomas rarely saw the field in his rookie season, playing only 22 total snaps all season.
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Thomas played in only four games and was often listed as an inactive. The four games Thomas played were during Weeks 2-4 and Week 8 of the season. His 22 snaps were only 1.87 percent of the team’s total defensive snaps, according to Pro Football Reference.
Even if Thomas was picked earlier than he was expected, playing only 22 snaps during the season is a rarity for being a third-round selection. Especially with the Browns lacking depth at the defensive end position, it should have led to Thomas playing more snaps.
Because the front office was confident in Thomas’ ability, the decision for his lack of playing time had to have been a decision by the coaching staff. According to Terry Pluto of cleveland.com, it was former Browns defensive coordinator Gregg Williams who did not see much from Thomas on the field.
"“Chad Thomas, a defensive end and the team’s third-round pick in 2018. He was injured in training camp. Former defensive coordinator Gregg Williams never warmed to Thomas, and the front office was frustrated that the Miami product didn’t receive more than 22 snaps.” – Pluto, Cleveland.com"
Williams is known to demand a lot of his players and is not afraid to make waves with his personnel decisions. Thomas had plenty of time last season to show improvement and earn more playing time later in the season, but was never able to do so.
If Williams felt Thomas would be unable to make an impact on the field as the defense lacked depth up front, it is a bad look for Thomas. The Browns needed bodies up front and Thomas could not provide anything for the defensive line in Williams’ eyes.
The selection of Thomas – along with Austin Corbett in the second round of the 2018 NFL Draft – have been one of the early downfalls in Dorsey’s time as Browns general manager. Both players have time to prove last year was an anomaly, but the lack of playing time for both players was, and remains to be, concerning.
With a new coaching staff, and perhaps some influence from the front office, Thomas will have a chance to show his ability and earn more playing time in 2019. And it would be hard for Thomas to have less playing time in 2019 than last season, but having new eyes on the defensive staff watching him could help his chances of being on the field more.