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Official UDFA Thread

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  • #16
    Walter Thomas

    April 25, 2007
    For N.F.L. Draft, the Biggest (XXXXXXL) Sleeper
    GALVESTON, Tex., April 21 — On the edge of the Texas Gulf is a 370-pound football player who can execute a perfect forward flip.

    When he lands, the ground trembles.

    The player’s name is Walter Thomas, and as he kicked his size 16 feet overhead Saturday morning, onlookers studied the sculpted giant with curiosity and awe. It was the kind of reaction Thomas usually elicits from professional football scouts.

    “I feel like I’m a big secret,” Thomas said. “The secret of the draft.”

    The National Football League draft, which begins Saturday, does not really have secrets anymore. Prospects are timed and tested, interviewed and investigated, over and over again. Entire dossiers are prepared for second-string players.

    Thomas is as close as modern football can come to an old-fashioned sleeper. In the past two years, his only playing experience was at Northwest Mississippi Community College in Senatobia, Miss. He played in two games, both losses. Then he was arrested on a charge of conspiracy to commit robbery, according to the Tate County (Miss.) Circuit Clerk’s office, and never played college football again.

    Judging by his credentials, perhaps Thomas should not be drafted. Judging by his dimensions, however, Thomas has to be drafted.

    Big Walt, as he is known, is a 6-foot-5 defensive tackle who wears a size XXXXXXL jersey. He bench presses 475 pounds and squats 800 pounds. Weight lifters at the Galveston Health and Racquet Club stop their workouts to watch him.

    Football teams everywhere are filled with big men, but many of them can barely move. Thomas has run the 40-yard dash in 4.9 seconds, faster than some N.F.L. tight ends. He is the rare tackle who can catch a running back from behind.

    “The guy is a dadgum Russian gymnast,” said Randy Pippin, the head coach at Northwest Mississippi.

    Thomas’s flexibility has become part of his lore. He does handstands and handsprings, broad jumps and cartwheels. When he gets excited, he will do a back flip.

    “I never thought a body that big could flip in the air,” said Ron Holmes, who coached Thomas at Ball High School in Galveston. “I wouldn’t have believed it unless I’d seen it with my own two eyes.”

    Three months ago, Thomas was little more than a novelty act. He declared for the draft as a 21-year-old junior, but unlike most underclassmen heading to the N.F.L., he had no highlight reel to send scouts and few statistics for them to analyze. The Web site ranked him as the 74th-best defensive tackle.

    “It was a different situation,” said Martin Magid, Thomas’s agent. “He was coming from the basement.”

    Magid, who represents several professional football players, lobbied for Thomas to be included in a predraft all-star game called Texas vs. The Nation. When the workouts for that game began, Thomas was an afterthought. When they ended, he was an Internet phenomenon.

    Draftniks found a new darling. Bloggers were breathless. reported that Thomas was “unstoppable” and “nimble” and “drew reactions ranging from gasps to smiles to a simple shake of the head in disbelief.”

    In the draft evaluation process, workouts are nearly as important as games, and Thomas is a workout wonder. He was invited to Mississippi State’s annual Pro Day and seized much of the attention, even though he did not attend Mississippi State.

    N.F.L. scouts, always on the lookout for that unique blend of size and agility, were seduced by a dancing goliath. This month, Thomas was ranked as the 15th-best defensive tackle in the draft. He hopes to pattern himself after the N.F.L. tackles Ted Washington (6-5, 365 pounds) of the Cleveland Browns and Jamal Williams (6-3, 348) of the San Diego Chargers.

    “He is definitely a topic of conversation right now,” said Gil Brandt, former vice president for player personnel for the Dallas Cowboys, who is now an analyst for “A lot of people are talking about him.”

    Thomas represents the hard choice that every team faces at some point on draft day — to pick a player with supreme physical ability and a questionable past, or to go with a player who has limited talent but a proven track record.

    Thomas would not be such a secret in the draft if he had not buried himself in college. He played at Oklahoma State as a freshman in 2004, but failed out of school before his sophomore season. He spent 2005 trying to regain his academic eligibility and went to Northwest Mississippi in 2006.

    “People like to tell me, ‘As big as you are, you’ll always get another chance,’ ” Thomas said. “But I think I’ve used up all my chances.”

    Thomas acts contrite and gentle, but his behavior can still be erratic. An interview for this story was scheduled for Friday morning in Galveston. Thomas arrived early Saturday, apologizing profusely that he confused the dates.

    Thomas was accompanied by Martha Overton, a 54-year-old whom he calls his second mother. Thomas went to school with Overton’s daughter, Elizabeth, and steadily ingratiated himself in her family. Now, he appears in all of their Christmas pictures. When he leaves Martha Overton’s sight, he gives her two bearhugs.

    “Walter has a lot of people who care for him very deeply,” Martha Overton said.

    Thomas needs the support system, especially in the new N.F.L. Commissioner Roger Goodell recently announced a personal-conduct policy that threatens teams for repeatedly signing troublemakers. When Thomas visited the Jets, the Dolphins and the Browns, they grilled him about his arrest, he said.

    He might as well have answered in rhyme. Thomas stars in a Galveston hip- hop group called Tre Side, and he recently wrote a rap about football, the mistakes he has made and his desire to correct them.

    From the stereo of his first car, a Ford Expedition that he picked up Friday, Thomas blasted one of his raps. He repeats the same line in a husky baritone: “I’m tired of wasting time.”

    As a prospect, Thomas is intriguing because of both his baggage and his potential. In the two games he did play last season, his numbers were mind-blowing: 16 tackles, 9 tackles for a loss and 4 sacks.

    “You absolutely cannot run at him,” said Les Miles, the Louisiana State University coach, who recruited Thomas to Oklahoma State. “You have to go in another direction.”

    Thomas cannot expect to be picked until the second day of the draft — rounds four through seven — but he should immediately become one of the biggest players in the league, and probably the biggest player on his new team.

    Thomas has always been the largest guy in the room. In the fifth grade, he was barred from Pop Warner games in Galveston because parents felt he had an unfair advantage. By the time he entered Austin Middle School, he was pushing 300 pounds.

    “He took up a whole side of the line,” said Jim Yarborough, a Galveston County judge whose son played against Austin Middle School.

    More than any specific game, Yarborough remembers the first time he shook hands with Thomas. “It was like he swallowed my whole hand,” Yarborough said.

    Growing up, Thomas was somewhat self-conscious about his size, so he befriended the smallest kids in school. They played a game called “Cut the Cake,” in which they found the biggest building in town and raced each other around it.

    Today, Thomas still has many of the same friends, and few of them weigh more than 150 pounds. He could bench-press three of them at a time.

    “That’s where I got my speed,” Thomas said. “I had to keep up with all those little guys.”

    To demonstrate, Thomas took off his size 16 sneakers, slid into a white tank top and did one of his forward flips on the grass next to a beachfront apartment building. He stuck the landing. The expression on his face was part grimace and part grin.

    A man watching from his apartment balcony came running. The man wore an Ohio State T-shirt and had many questions. Who is this specimen? Does he play football? Would he be interested in going to college at Ohio State?

    But Thomas was already in his Expedition, driving down Seawall Boulevard, blasting music by the rapper Slim Thug, another performer who is not particularly slim.

    For a few more days, Thomas can still keep himself a secret.


    • #17
      I am so excited right now because of the Walter Thomas signing, it looks like Peyton took a chance of someone with character concerns. I am calling Steal of the UDFA right here with Mr. Thomas


      • #18
        Originally posted by BiggerFoot View Post
        I am so excited right now because of the Walter Thomas signing, it looks like Peyton took a chance of someone with character concerns. I am calling Steal of the UDFA right here with Mr. Thomas
        Hopefully Walter has put his troubled past behind him and is ready to focus on football.

        I hope he makes the team but he has a lot to catch up on in Camp he's only played 2 games the past 2 seasons. He is a monster of a man though.


        • #19
          Damn it.Walter's the one guy I wanted Oakland to get as a UFDA.
          "The liberator who destroys my property, is fighting to save my spirit. The teacher who clears all possessions from my path will set me free."-Tyler Durden


          • #20
            Here is the list I've compiled. I had all these guys around midnight last night, save the kicker. I'll leave some comments on a couple players you might not know much about.

            QB Tyler Palko, Pittsburgh
            RB Pierre Thomas, Illinois
            WR Rhema McKnight, Notre Dame
            FB Keith Greer, Idaho-- moved around a little bit too much and not surprisingly has a skill set like Dante Rosario (Panthers' 5th round choice).
            OL Peter Dyakowski, LSU
            OL Jake Kuresa, Brigham Young
            DE Jon Hamm, Clark-- massively raw physical specimen who is more of a LE, not a RE. Could play DT but coaches may deem him too tall. Formerly of Southern Illinois.
            DT Walter Thomas, Northwest Mississippi CC
            LB Wade Koehl, Houston-- outstanding measurables and a finalist for the Wuerffel Award. Good blitzer and a classic WLB.
            DB Joe Porter, Rutgers-- impressive size and speed combination. Played corner, but will probably be moved to free safety to make use of his size and mask his tight hips.
            K Brett Bergstrom, Eastern Washington-- only got to kick one year at that level but did a nice job.
            LS Patrick Macdonald, Canada
            ATH Michael Haddix, Siena (basketball--unconfirmed)-- never played football and is 6'6" 255. Obviously projects to tight end.
            Last edited by WeatherMike; 04-30-2007, 11:49 PM.


            • #21
              On another forum Walter's character issues were discussed in depth.

              If you check his myspace he admits to smoking mary-j, and hangs around with thugs it seems. He is going to have a hard time readjusting.

              Immensely talented just so much baggage.


              • #22
                Wow. Congrats to the Saints for landing Palko AND Thomas....Palko has an outstanding work ethic and he does what is asked of him, i loved watching him at Pitt...and thomas, man...if he stays in line, he could be a nightmare..awesome for you guys.


                • #23
                  So far, I really like our UDFA class. Where'd you find all those signings, WeatherMike?

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                  • #24
                    Originally posted by diabsoule View Post
                    So far, I really like our UDFA class. Where'd you find all those signings, WeatherMike?
                    I have a lot of contacts and a lot of these stories can now be verified as the players' local paper(s) ran a story on most. I also have it on good order that Auburn punter Kody Bliss may have signed (if not, he will be among the many at the rookie tryout). Others who will try out include Haddix, Daniel Inman, Greg Green, Ameer Ismail, and Randy Kelly.

                    Some guys that the Saints couldn't agree with, whether it be lack of interest on the player's end or the Saints', include Gabe Hall, Larry Birdine, Chris Leak, Jared Zabransky, and Eric Fowler. Hall is being made a TE, Birdine is Jammal Brown's cousin, and Fowler is a record-setting receiver from Grand Valley State.


                    • #25
                      Saints Announce Rookie Free Agent Class

                      K Brett Bergstrom - Eastern Washington: Bergstrom, 6-2, 220 pounds, was a two-year letterman for EWU and took over the kicking duties in 2006 after having previously seen time as a receiver and at safety. Bergstrom played his first two seasons at Shasta Community College in California, kicking and playing both offense and defense for the notable junior college. In 2006, Bergstrom converted 15 of 18 field goals (83.3%) and recorded 23 touchbacks on kickoffs. Three of Bergstrom's field goals were from beyond 50 yards, including a 56-yarder, and also he converted 21 of 22 extra points.
                      T Peter Dyakowski - Louisiana State University: Dyakowski was LSU's starting right tackle as a senior after being a top reserve for much of his first three seasons on the Tigers' nationally ranked squad. The 6-5, 310-pound Dyakowski, who hails from Vancouver College High School, was selected last year with the 11th pick overall in the CFL Draft by the Hamilton Tigercats, but elected to return to school for his senior season. An excellent student, Dyakowski was a mainstay on the SEC's All-Academic teams throughout his college career. Dyakowski earned the distinction of becoming the first-ever Canadian born player to play for the Tigers.
                      FB Keith Greer - University of Idaho: Greer primarily played the tight end position during his collegiate career with the Vandals. In 38 career games, the 6-1, 248-pound native of Santa Ana, Calif. was used predominantly as a blocker and caught 13 passes for 107 yards. Greer recovered from a career-threatening leg injury suffered in the first game of his sophomore season (2003) to play in all 23 of the Vandals' games over the past two seasons.
                      DE Jon Hamm - Clark Atlanta University: Hamm is a 6-foot-7, 272-pound defensive end who earned first team all-conference honors for the Division II Clark Atlanta Panthers in 2006 after collecting 36 tackles, three sacks and blocking two kicks. He becomes the second player from Clark Atlanta to wear the Black and Gold, joining cornerback Elijah Nevett who played for the Saints from 1967-70.
                      LB Wade Koehl - University of Houston: A 2006 All-Conference first teamer for the Cougars, Koehl (6-2, 230 pounds) was a four-year starter who amassed 331 career tackles, 34 tackles for losses and eight sacks. As a senior, Koehl was a Wuerffel Trophy finalist, and was a semifinalist for the Draddy Award. The native of Midland, Texas was an All-Conference Academic first-teamer after earning a 3.52 grade point average as an accounting major.
                      G Jake Kuresa - Brigham Young University: Kuresa, 6-4, 330, was a mainstay for the Cougars during his four seasons in Provo, starting 47 of 48 games. He played every offensive line position in his senior year. The former defensive lineman was a two-time All-Mountain West Conference performer and was a All-America honorable mention. Kuresa, a team captain as a senior, was credited with 96 knockdown blocks and allowed just one-and-a-half sacks as a senior for a team that averaged 465.5 yards per game on offense.
                      LS Pat MacDonald - University of Alberta: A 6-3, 247-pound former defensive lineman from Canada's University of Alberta, the Toronto native became just the second player in school history to sign with an NFL team, and the first one in 31 years. The only previous player from the University of Alberta was former Washington Redskin Brian Fryar. MacDonald transferred to Alberta from the University of Calgary. While at Alberta he was also a member of the school's downhill ski racing team.
                      WR Rhema McKnight - University of Notre Dame: The 6-2, 211-pound Golden Domer ranks second in Notre Dame annals with 170 receptions, topped only by teammate Jeff Samardzija's 179 catches. McKnight is the seventh player in school history to eclipse to the 2,000 yard receiving mark with 2,277 yards, joining such notable players as Samardzija (2,593), Derrick Mayes (2,512, 1992-95), Tim Brown (2,493, 1984-87), Tom Gatewood (2,283), Maurice Stovall (2,195, 2002-05) and Jim Seymour (2,113, 1966-68), finishing fifth on the school's all-time record list. McKnight's 22 TD receptions tied Mayes for second all-time in Irish history behind Samardzija (27). In 2006 McKnight's 67 receptions in 2006 were the fifth-most in a season by a Notre Dame player and his 15 TD receptions in 2006 tied a school record.
                      QB Tyler Palko - University of Pittsburgh: The gritty left-handed signal-caller was a three-year starter for the Panthers who threw for 8,343 yards and completed 60% of his passes along with 66 TD to only 25 interceptions. Palko led the Panthers to a BCS game as a sophomore in 2004 when Pitt won the Big East title and earned a trip to the Fiesta Bowl. He is the son of a well-known Western Pennsylvania high school football coach, Bob Palko, and was one of Pitt's most notable recruits over the course of the past two decades.
                      CB Joe Porter - Rutgers University: Porter, who holds the 200-meter Indoor school record and became the 2005 Big East Outdoor Track Champion, played in 43 career games for the Scarlet Knights and recorded 93 tackles, 11 passes defensed, seven forced fumbles, five interceptions and four-and-a-half tackles for losses during his four career. Porter was part of a contingent of players who helped the Rutgers program turn the fortunes of the Scarlet Knight around during his four seasons on the New Brunswick, N.J. campus.
                      RB Pierre Thomas - University of Illinois: Pierre ranks seventh on the Illini career rushing list with 2,392 yards and ranks third on the Illini career all-purpose yardage list with 4,099 yards. An accomplished kickoff returner, Thomas completed his undergraduate career with 1,328 yards, just 56 yards shy of the school record. Thomas, the Illini's MVP the past two seasons, posted eight career 100-yard games. Thomas is a native of Lynwood, Ill., where he was a top 100 national recruit as a senior by the Chicago Sun-Times.
                      DT Walter Thomas - Northwest Mississippi Community College: Thomas, 6-4, 374 pounds, played in the Texas vs. the National All-Star game in 2007. A heavily recruited player as a high schooler, Thomas played briefly at Oklahoma State before attending Northwest Mississippi CC. Thomas reportedly ran in the 4.8-4.9 range and can bench press 475 pounds and squat 800 pounds and is known for his flexibility and his ability to do back flips and cartwheels. The 21-year old Thomas, who wears size 16 shoes, declared for the NFL Draft after his junior season and attended the Pro Day at Mississippi State University.

                      Sveen's 2015 NFL Draft Spreadsheet


                      • #26
                        About Walter Thomas, does anyone know how he did in the Texas vs. Nation game? Tackles for loss, tackles, passes batted down? y


                        • #27
                          I didn't see the game, but I think I've read he played very well. I don't know anything more specific though.

                          Sveen's 2015 NFL Draft Spreadsheet


                          • #28
                            Yeah, I've heard he stood out, but thats about as concrete as I can give you.


                            • #29
                              Texas College All-American cornerback Dathan Brown found himself in the green Tuesday after he reached a free-agent deal with the New Orleans Saints.

                              Sveen's 2015 NFL Draft Spreadsheet


                              • #30
                                I think that may be a mistake. The Saints already released their signings and Brown was not one. The paper probably confused an agreement to try out for a free agent contract. I found another article saying Kody Bliss signed but the Saints just signed Chris Hanson to be the backup punter for training camp. Clearly the Saints will not waste a spot on the 85 on a third punter, so he didn't sign.

                                The same goes for Scott Shanle's brother Andrew, who also reportedly signed but was never named.
                                Last edited by WeatherMike; 05-03-2007, 11:05 PM.



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