De'Anthony Thomas was one of my favorite players in college during his career at Oregon. Thomas played at Oregon from 2011-13, showcasing stunning speed and killer quickness that dazzled the nation. In his freshman season, he was voted co-freshman of the year in the Pac-12, gaining 2,235 All-Purpose yards and 10 TDs. In the Rose Bowl against Wisconsin, he went for 314 All-Purpose yards, and a 91 yard TD run that set a new Rose Bowl record for longest run from scrimmage. On just 2 carries, Thomas had 155 yards and 2 TDs.
After his freshman season, Thomas was on every ones pre-season Heisman watch list. Along with the quick fame came struggle also. He only started 8 games, splitting time with Kenjon Barner, another Oregon great back, while decreasing in all-purpose yards, 1,757, but gaining more TDs with 18 (only player in the country to have a TD as a rusher, returner and receiver).
Even though he split time throughout his career, Thomas was still very productive, Injuries slowed him down some but not much. The thing that will hurt Thomas in the NFL is that, no offenses in the NFL are as wide open as Oregon's, that allow him to make things happen in open space. Of course teams will be scared to draft because of his 5'9 175 lbs frame but he won't be the first small dude to grace an NFL field and he won't be the last.
One thing I do think will be an issue for Thomas is route running. At Oregon he did play receiver, but a lot of his yards came from short routes, mostly in the flats, and screens. He has the potential to be an excellent route running with his quickness and breakaway speed but it will take some polishing.
If I had to compare Thomas to some players in the league, it would be Tavon Austin and Desean Jackson. Little guys with blazing speed and big play ability. Thomas can take it the distance anytime he touches the ball, from anywhere on the field. He is projected to be a 3rd day pick, which I think is a steal, and I'm sure he will make an instant impact, mainly on the special teams. Don't be surprised if Chip Kelly decides to take his former player. After losing Desean, they will need a player to replace his ability to stretch the field and Kelly already has a history with him. It should be a good match for the both of them.