OG-Jaimie Thomas' Focus Became Clear Once He Fulfilled NFL Draft Dream
INDIANAPOLIS – He shared the same dream of most college football players.
So, yes, Jaimie Thomas said, there was a moment of satisfaction this past April when the Colts selected him in the seventh and final round of the 2009 NFL Draft.
A dream had been fulfilled, and Thomas had a place to play.
But once the draft was over, Thomas said, it was over. That meant that the dream became a reality that he had a job to do.
He was in the NFL. And it was time to work.
"After the draft was over, at the end of the day, it was nice to say I got drafted," Thomas, an offensive guard from the University of Maryland, said during the Colts' recent offseason conditioning program at the Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center.
"There are a lot of guys who don't get that opunity and I was one who was fortunate, so after that, I put it behind me. Now, it's time to try to make the team."
Thomas will try to do that at a deep position – interior offensive line – that in the past has selected a slightly different sort of player. The Colts for the past decade or so typically have selected "lighter" interior offensive linemen, with many players at the spot weighing between 290 and 310 pounds.
Ryan Lilja and Mike Pollak, the projected starters entering training camp, weight 290 and 301 pounds, respectively.
Thomas? He weighs 330 pounds.
Colts President Bill Polian joked on draft day that Thomas was closer in size to a Colts offensive tackle than a guard, but Thomas said he worked mostly at left guard with the Colts in the offseason and that he last played tackle in high school.
"From what I've been told here, you have to be prepared to play any position," said Thomas, adding that he played center and tackle in high school and right and left guard in college. "I've taken some snaps at center in mini-camp, trying to prepare myself to move anywhere on the line, anywhere they need me to play."
Ask most interior offensive linemen around the Colts their position and their typical reply is, "Offensive line." That's a philosophy Thomas said he embraces.
"Same with me," he said. "Wherever they need me, that's where I'll be playing."
Thomas, the 236th player selected in the draft, started two seasons at Maryland, playing in 45 career games and starting 23. He also played in the East-West Shrine Game following his senior season and said he feels he brings some unique attributes to the guard position – particularly arm length, which can be a major advantage for an offensive lineman.
"In a pass pro (protection) situation, once you get your hands on a guy it's typically over from there," Thomas said. "It's all footwork. As for run blocking, I do have some weight behind me, so when I come off the ball in good position and get my hands on guys . . . once I get my weight going, it's pretty good."
And in that respect, Thomas said he believes he fits with the Colts' philosophy of emphasizing athleticism on the interior offensive line.
"Definitely," he said. "I feel like I fit right into that."
Thomas is the fourth interior lineman selected by the Colts in the last two drafts. The team selected guard Mike Pollak in the second round of the 2008 NFL Draft, then selected guard/center Steve Justice in the sixth round and guard Jamey Richard in the seventh round.
Pollak started 13 games at guard as a rookie, with Richard starting four at center and three at guard. Justice started once at guard.