Please do yourself a favor and watch the above video. It's a video about transformation, growth, and overcoming adversity. It's essentially a montage from the 1970s, commentators and all.
Or if you just want to skip to where Rocky takes down [insert name here], just click this link and watch the last minute of the video.
This is a video of Patriots 6th round selection Jemea Thomas and it's how he, at 5'9 1/4 and 192 lbs, managed to conquer giants.
For those not wanting to watch the first five minutes of the video, I'll sum it up for you: it's not very good. It's not terrible, but there's nothing about it that would make Thomas seem remotely draftable. He would take okay angles, but would be out of position to bring down the player. He'd be blocked back ten yards at a time on run plays. He didn't flash anything special.
This game is the ACC Conference Championship game against Florida State in 2012. You can see some familiar faces (the FSU quarterback is now the franchise quarterback in Buffalo. The rest of the team went on to win the National Championship in an undefeated 2013 season).
But then comes the final four minutes of the game, with the championship on the line, and Thomas comes alive. The first play, he sniffs out the option pass forcing the quarterback to hold on for a meager two yard gain. The second play, he takes a perfect angle from 15 yards out to take down the runner for another two yard gain, anticipating where the carrier was going to be.
The third and last play of the video is what legends are made of. It's jaw dropping. It's similar to Aaron Dobson's miracle back-hand catch for a touchdown. Thomas elevates himself from a player to a star in this one play.
He boxes out all 6'5, 240 lbs of 2014 first round pick Kelvin Benjamin- 7 3/4 inches and 48 pounds separating the two- and pulls down a one handed interception to give his team a chance to comeback and win.
This is Jemea Thomas. And this is how he played in 2013.
Feel free to watch one of his many games on Draft Breakdown. I recommend his game against Tom Savage and Pittsburgh as it truly shows his versatility. He contributes as a kick returner, as a gunner, as a cornerback, as a safety, as a pass rusher, and as a linebacker. He plays in man, in zone, and in off-coverage. He plays single deep in the cover one, he plays the traditional strong safety role, he steps up in the slot in the cover two. He is a defensive jackknife and he's what Bill Belichick loves to have on the roster.
Thomas doesn't have any negative plays on defense (I saw him lose track of his man in punt coverage once). He makes at least three outstanding plays on his own and his angles are a thing of beauty.
He's still a project player, which is why he was still on the board. But that's what sixth round picks are for: players with a ton of potential that still need time to develop. He'll start on special teams and he'll work his way up as a top back-up.
Currently, Thomas is competing with Tavon Wilson, Pat Chung, and Nate Ebner for a roster spot. His upside is the greatest, although the others are proven entities. Don't be shocked if he makes the roster. Don't be surprised when you see him make some highlight plays during the preseason.
Thomas is going to earn his time on the field. He's far too talented to ignore.