The Buffalo Bills have one of the NFL’s better defenses, and the secondary is the biggest reason why. Buffalo has one of the league’s best corners in Tre’Davious White, and they also boast one of the NFL’s top safety tandems.
Since 2017, when Micah Hyde and Jordan Poyer joined the club, the duo has played on at least 87% of the defensive snaps for the Bills. That means that, if you’re a backup safety for Buffalo, you had better be a strong special teams player, because the top two aren’t coming out of the game.
That kind of strength at the top of the depth chart gives a team the chance to find and develop younger players who can help in the long term. In today’s installment of “91 players in 91 days,” we profile one such young player—an undrafted rookie free agent looking to make his way in the NFL.
Name: Josh Thomas
Height/Weight: 6’, 205 lbs.
Age: 23 (24 on 11/19/2020)
Experience/Draft: R; undrafted in 2020 NFL Draft
College: Appalachian State
Acquired: Signed as UDFA on 4/25/2020
Financial situation (per Spotrac): Thomas signed a three-year contract following the draft this year, a pact worth a total of $2.31 million overall. Of that total, $25,000 is guaranteed. If Thomas makes the 53-man roster, he carries a 2020 cap hit of $618,333.
2019 Recap: Thomas started every game for Appalachian State as a fifth-year senior, extending his personal streak to 27 consecutive starts over the final two years of his collegiate career. He was a captain in 2019 for the second consecutive year, as well. Thomas made 72 tackles, a career high, adding two tackles for a loss, one interception (which he returned for a touchdown in the Sun Belt Conference Championship game that App State won), three pass breakups, and one fumble recovery. Thomas was not invited to the NFL Scouting Combine, and Appalachian State’s Pro Day was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, so he did not have the chance to show himself off on the testing circuit. NFL Draft Scout pegs Thomas’s 40-yard dash time at a low of 4.53 seconds and a high of 4.69 seconds.
Positional outlook: Thomas is one of seven safeties on Buffalo’s current roster. Aside from Hyde and Poyer, who are surefire starters, the Bills also have slot corner/safety hybrid Siran Neal, veteran Dean Marlowe, second-year man Jaquan Johnson, and fellow UDFA Garrett Taylor fighting for roster spots.
2020 Offseason: Nothing new to report.
2020 Season outlook: Thomas faces a difficult path to the roster, as it’s pretty likely that the five players who were on Buffalo’s roster last year will be on their roster this year, as well. He has a shot at the practice squad, and he could find himself on another roster with a strong preseason. However, unless one of Buffalo’s top five safeties is injured or plays very poorly, this is a position that shouldn’t change much at all.