Bears Get Promising Draft Pick Poached By NFC Rival

Zach Thomas

Getty Bears OL Zachary Thomas was signed off Chicago's practice squad by the Los Angeles Rams.

Zachary Thomas is headed back to the California sunshine.

A sixth-round pick out of San Diego State for the Chicago Bears in 2022 (186th overall), the young offensive lineman was poached off Chicago’s practice squad by the Los Angeles Rams, according to the NFL’s November 18 waiver wire. While Thomas didn’t make Chicago’s initial 53-man roster, he was immediately signed to the team’s practice squad after roster cuts were made.

The 6-foot-5, 308-pound Thomas is a San Diego native, so he’ll be returning to his home state. Players signed off other teams’ practice squads automatically make the roster of the team that signs them, so he’ll likely be suiting up for a Rams team that has injuries piling up on offensive line.

Bears Were Converting Zach Thomas to Interior Lineman

In his last year with the Aztecs in 2021, Thomas played left tackle and surrendered 3.0 sacks, two QB hits and eight hurries in 412 pass block snaps, earning an 87.2 overall grade from PFF. He also spent significant time playing right tackle (643 snaps in 2019, 564 snaps in 2020), but the Bears had designs on moving him to the interior of the offensive line.

They did just that during the preseason. In 40 pass block snaps this preseason (all played at left guard), Thomas allowed three total pressures and 1.0 sacks, according to Pro Football Focus.

The versatile young OL possesses the kind of gritty on-field demeanor Bears general manager Ryan Poles covets on the O-line, and he was one of the more promising young players on the team’s practice squad.

“He does have the football intelligence, he does have the height, weight, length, arm length that you need to play tackle but also can play guard because he’s done it before and he has the body type. When you see his body type he’s a lot thicker in the lower body,” Bears scout David Williams said about Thomas, via The Chicago Tribune.

Now, he has a shot at seeing his first action in a regular season NFL game with the Rams.

If Rams Ever Let Thomas Walk, Bears Should Re-Sign Him

One underrated aspect about Thomas is his discipline. In the 1,444 snaps he played over his final two seasons at SD State, he was flagged a total of three times. That shows an incredible amount of self control.

“I hang my hat on just being a player that plays through the whistle on every play,” Thomas said shortly after being drafted by the Bears, per the team’s official website. “I love putting guys on their backs, and I think I’m going to fit in this system really well.”

Thomas was also an excellent fit for offensive coordinator Luke Getsy’s motion-heavy system.

As draft expert Lance Zierlein noted, “Thomas is a fit for zone-scheme teams as a sticky move blocker with the ability to shift and stay connected while continuing to keep his feet moving. He lacks the desired mass and power to generate much downhill push, but improved hand placement could help.”

It will be interesting to see how Thomas does in L.A. If the Rams decide to let him go at any point, the Bear should scoop him back up, as he clearly possesses many of the qualities they’re looking for in offensive linemen.

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