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Cameron Thomas, The “Next J.J. Watt,” Had Good Talks With Bears

Chicago Sports News

Up front is one of the biggest transitions the Chicago Bears will have to make on defense. Matt Eberflus is planning to install a 4-3 alignment that places new requirements on the type of defensive linemen they’ll need to make it work. Defensive ends will go from giant 300+ lbs run-stoppers to the primary edge rushers, while the defensive tackles must prioritize interior pressure. Think what Tommie Harris and Henry Melton were during the Lovie Smith era. So it isn’t a surprise the new regime is interested in Cameron Thomas.

According to Jacob Infante of Windy City Gridiron, the San Diego State defensive end had productive talks with the Bears in the past week or so. It isn’t hard to understand why. From the moment he stepped on the field for the Aztecs, he was a problem for opposing offenses. In 33 games across three years, Thomas racked up 20 sacks and 39 tackles for a loss. Half of that production came in his final season last year.

He was living in the opposing backfield every week.

The #Bears have met with San Diego State DL Cameron Thomas, per source.

He really enjoyed his interactions with them. Super versatile defender with size, speed and tenacity who could go as early as Round 1.

— Jacob Infante (@jacobinfante24) February 12, 2022

One comparison that draft experts seem to make quite often is J.J. Watt. That seems a big over the top. However, it’s hard not to believe it when looking at the measurables and then watching the tape. Watt was 6’5, 290 lbs with 34-inch arms coming out of Wisconsin. Thomas is 6’5, 270 lbs, with 33.5-inch arms. So he’s a bit lighter with slightly shorter arms. Yet he boasts the Watt trademarks of grown-man strength, violent hands, a hot motor, and athleticism to move around the defensive line.

Cameron Thomas, DL, #99

Armover é o move preferido dele. Mostra que vence nas três fases, por dentro, por fora e com força pic.twitter.com/nvSSz4KRwP

— Rapinas do Mar (Cortes) (@cortesrapinas) February 10, 2022

Cameron Thomas, DL, #99

Boa força e inside move pic.twitter.com/DXfbijqJjl

— Rapinas do Mar (Cortes) (@cortesrapinas) February 10, 2022

Cameron Thomas, DL, #99

Boa infiltração e negando o first down para o RB pic.twitter.com/oZzDrIprsW

— Rapinas do Mar (Cortes) (@cortesrapinas) February 10, 2022

This time of year, it’s easy to nitpick prospects about every little thing that might be wrong. Yet the evidence is clear. Thomas is a good football player. He has the size, power, and technique necessary to play on Sundays. If deployed in a defensive system that can take advantage of his skill set, it isn’t a stretch to think he’d be good for 8-10 sacks every year.

Cameron Thomas could be Bears’ bridge to the future

In regards to 2022, the Bears are set at defensive end. Robert Quinn and Khalil Mack are capable of playing that position without much issue. However, it is essential to remember that they are into their 30s now. There is no telling how much longer they have in terms of pass rush productivity. The team has to start thinking about the future. If this young man is available in the 2nd round, he might be challenging to pass on.

While defensive ends might not be high on the Bears’ list of needs, it is still a premier position. Teams can never have enough good pass rushers. Cameron Thomas has all the makings of a promising future pass rusher. Adding him to the mix might enable the team to trade either Quinn or Mack next offseason when it becomes more financially viable. Presuming one or both of them has another strong season.

GM Ryan Poles’ job is simple.

Yes, a big part is to help Justin Fields become a success. More than anything though, it is to add as many good players to his roster as possible. Thomas is a good player. Nobody should complain if he ends up in navy blue and orange by the end of April.

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