By Mark Janssen
MANHATTAN, Kan. - The injury isn't believed to be serious, but K-State running back Daniel Thomas has pulled out of this weekend's Senior Bowl due to a hamstring injury.
Thomas would have been the first Wildcat since 2008 (Jordy Nelson) to play in the Senior Bowl, while the last running back to do so was Thomas Clayton in 2007. In K-State history, Thomas would have been the 40th player to take part in the game.
Thomas will now try to get healthy for next month's NFL Combine where he hopes to enhance his draft stock.
The All-Big 12 standout entered the week being ranked by draft guru Mike Mayock as the No. 2 tailback in this year's draft class only behind Alabama's Mark Ingram.
On other draft boards, the 6-foot-2, 228-pounder is listed among the top six running backs in the nation and a likely draft selection in the second or third round.
The other top-ranked dashers are considered to be Mark Ingram of Alabama, Mikel Leshoure of Illinois, Ryan Williams of Virginia Tech, Jordan Todman of UConn and Demarco Murray of Oklahoma. All are projected to go in the first three rounds of the 2011 NFL Draft.
If there's an area limiting Thomas' draft stock it's in overall speed where he's been clocked in the 40-yard dash at 4.52 as a best and 4.63 as an average.
Multiple scouting reports are out on Thomas:
• Thomas is a no nonsense runner. He has a big, solid frame that can absorb punishment and inflict it, allowing him to run effectively in between the tackles. His speed is solid, but his athleticism can really be seen in his hips, as he's a very fluid and natural runner. While not a burner, Thomas can give defenses major problems in open space, as he possesses the elusiveness to get past linebackers and the toughness to bull-doze anyone in the secondary.
• Schematically the K-State product is unlimited as he can play in a smash mouth offense or one which calls for a speedy, slice and dice back. While he has an excellent body it's not necessarily NFL perfect. His upper body is fantastic but his legs are a bit thin and lack the power you would expect for a man of his size. Thomas also lacks elite speed and will never be considered a burner at the next level.
• Kansas State's Daniel Thomas isn't an explosive scat back or a massive bruiser. But he has the size, skills, and fluidity to be the perfect middle man at the next level. Has experience as a receiver, but doesn't have elite hands. Overall, he's the complete package as a runner, without the dazzle effect.
• Thomas has shown great vision by finding and rarely missing an open running lane. He uses his quick burst to get through those open holes before they are plugged by a defender. When he gets through the initial hole he is very difficult to bring down and often breaks the first attempted tackle. He keeps his legs churning fighting for every last yard available. Thomas is tailor made to be a short yardage back in the NFL and likely a lot more. He has shown that he is capable of being a 3 down back in the NFL because he is a capable and willing pass blocker and he has reliable hands.
• Thomas can appear too stiff at times, and will enter the 2011 NFL season at 24. He's not ancient, but since the average age of the average NFL player's career is under 30 years old, teams won't like that number.
• While Thomas has very good vision that can sometimes be his undoing. He is always looking for the perfect open hole but sometimes they just don't materialize.
Thomas was the 2009 Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year and this year rushed for 1,585 yards, most ever for a senior running back. His 2,850 career yards ranks him second in K-State history, and his 269-yard rushing effort at North Texas this year ranks third-highest for a single game.
The 2011 Under Armour Senior Bowl will take place at Ladd-Peebles Stadium in Mobile, Ala., Saturday at 3 p.m. The game will be televised by the NFL Network.