NFL comparisons for Chicago Bears rookie Zach Thomas

Oct 15, 2021; San Jose, California, USA; San Jose State Spartans defensive lineman Cade Hall (92) is blocked by San Diego State Aztecs offensive lineman Zachary Thomas (76) during the third quarter at CEFCU Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 15, 2021; San Jose, California, USA; San Jose State Spartans defensive lineman Cade Hall (92) is blocked by San Diego State Aztecs offensive lineman Zachary Thomas (76) during the third quarter at CEFCU Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports /
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The Chicago Bears drafted Zach Thomas, a tackle from San Diego State. While he played tackle for the Aztecs, he arguably was better off at guard in college but played outside because he was the best lineman on the roster.

Now, he may be able to unlock more out of his game from the guard position. Using his athletic traits, you can find some pretty solid NFL projections, and it is not surprising that the most comparable players to Zach Thomas are interior offensive linemen.

Below is a list of linemen who participated in the NFL combine and are 6’4” to 6’5”, 302 pounds to 314, ran 4.91 to 5.09 in the 40-yard dash, and had a 7.3 to 7.6 3-cone with a 4.53 to 4.69 short shuttle. Also, these players were selected outside the top 100 picks.

Athletically, this is the group that Zach Thomas would best fit into.

Results Table
RkYearPlayerPosAgeAV
SchoolHeightWt40YDVerticalBenchRepsBroad Jump3ConeShuttleDrafted (tm/rnd/yr)
12013J.C. TretterOG2242Cornell6-43075.0929.5291097.484.69Green Bay Packers / 4th / 122nd pick / 2013
22002Artis HicksOG2334Memphis6-43035.0829.5221047.854.64
32012Tom ComptonOT2227South Dakota6-53145.0130.0201087.594.60Washington Redskins / 6th / 193rd pick / 2012
42005Eric GhiaciucC2320Central Michigan6-43025.0932.0301057.874.56Cincinnati Bengals / 4th / 119th pick / 2005
52006Guy WhimperOT2214East CarolinaCollege Stats6-53044.9629.0261027.384.59New York Giants / 4th / 129th pick / 2006
62020Jon RunyanOL229MichiganCollege Stats6-43065.0830.5241077.574.69Green Bay Packers / 6th / 192nd pick / 2020
72019Ryan BatesOL225Penn StateCollege Stats6-43065.0927.0281027.454.53
82000Brad BedellOG234Colorado6-43025.0731.5171037.764.58Cleveland Browns / 6th / 206th pick / 2000
92020Danny PinterOL233Ball StateCollege Stats6-43064.9129.5241107.764.62Indianapolis Colts / 5th / 149th pick / 2020
102013Vinston PainterOT230Virginia Tech6-43064.9530.532977.714.56Denver Broncos / 6th / 173rd pick / 2013

Overall, Chicago Bears fans should see some names that are familiar. J.C. Tretter is someone that fans want the team to sign but is not a great comparison because Tretter moved to center in the NFL.

Tom Compton was a depth lineman for the Chicago Bears and played both tackle and guard. This is a realistic outcome and one that should not be looked down on. However, the best comparison may be someone that the Bears tried to sign this offseason with this regime. That is Ryan Bates.

Bates was expected to be signed to play right guard, but the Buffalo Bills matched his restricted offer. Below is a side-by-side comparison of Zach Thomas and Ryan Bates.

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Bates is a bit more athletic, but almost all of it comes down to a questionably low vertical. It is even more surprising when the rest of his athletic numbers match Ryan Bates, almost exactly, if not seeing Thomas as more athletic.

Thomas is a bit longer, with similar height and weight. He is a bit quicker and has very similar agility tests. Were the Chicago Bears looking at Zach Thomas and thinking this is a dart at a player such as Ryan Bates?

Next. NFL Comparison for Velus Jones Jr.. dark

Sure, he may not become that player that they wanted to sign, but Bates was a UDFA who has slowly been moving up the depth chart. Even if it takes time, and the outcome is a player who is a lower-end starter, or a higher-end depth performer that is a realistic outcome for Zach Thomas.