As his draft stock increases, Solomon Thomas is out to prove he is the best and doesn't mind the "tweener" label that's been placed on him.
When the 6-foot-3, 273 pounds defensive lineman out of Stanford first declared for draft, many had Solomon Thomas getting selected as a mid or late pick in the first round.
But since Thomas' performance at the NFL Combine and his pro day, experts have him moving all the way up in mock drafts to as high as the No. 2-overall pick. Thomas, a first-team All-Pac-12 selection, was the Combine's top performer in the three-cone drill and broad jump among defensive linemen.
Thomas' pass rushing ability has been questioned by some – he totaled only 12 sacks in two years but his lack of opportunities rushing off the edge might have been the biggest reason for a low sack number.
At his Combine press conference, Thomas explained that he hopes to change mindsets and showcase his abilities during the offseason programs.
"Just prove to them because I didn't rush a lot from the edge in college, but proving I can do that," Thomas said. "Prove to them that I'm effective enough to do that."
His limited play on the edge didn't stop him from being a disruptive force, though, as he collected an impressive 14 tackles for loss in 2016 for the Cardinal.
The real indication of Thomas's potential came in his dominating bowl performance against North Carolina, finishing with seven tackles and a sack.
Thomas is considered a "tweener" upfront by some scouts since he doesn't possess the prototypical size to play at the interior of the defensive line. But Thomas isn't opposed to the particular label.
"I don't take that as a bad thing," said Thomas, who doesn't claim to have any issue in either a 3-4 or 4-3 scheme. "I can play any system and I can play any position on the D-line."
One of the reasons Thomas' draft stock has skyrocketed is he has gotten a better sense of what it takes to be an NFL lineman.
Physically, Thomas has proved his ability to play up and down the defensive line and hopes to continue the momentum into the draft later this month.
"You've got to have a sense of what's going on," he said. "You've got to know how the O-line thinks, how they move. Yourself, you've got to have violent hands anywhere on the D-line. And you have to have a sense for the ball and a knack to get off on the ball."
Thomas also considers himself a smart guy with a strong football IQ. He believes he's the best defensive lineman in the 2017 NFL Draft.
"I don't think no one gets after it like me," Thomas said. "No one plays extremely tough like I do. I just try to show I'm the best I can be. That's my goal, to always be the best. You have to think you're the best to be the best."