Drafted: 2011 NFL Draft, 1st Round (14th Overall)
Career Stats/Awards: 23 interceptions, 60 passes defended, 10 forced fumbles, 5x Pro Bowl, 4x First Team All Pro, 1 Second Team All Pro,
On January 11, 2010, Pete Carroll was hired to become the new head coach of the Seattle Seahawks. Just 102 days later, Carroll chose a player in the first round of the 2010 NFL Draft who would become the initial building block of the championship team into which Seattle has since evolved.
Earl Thomas, taken out of the University of Texas, was the Seahawks second of two first-round picks — the other being Russell Okung. The safety was a high profile pick which NFL.com scouted post-combine as a “ball hawk” that combined an elite, top-speed athlete with a strong, contact-seeking tackler.
And boy has he lived up to those expectations.
Thomas has been widely regarded as one of the best safeties in the league going into his eighth season. A four-time, first-team All-Pro, he has 23 interceptions and 60 passes in his career, with his 407 tackles ranking him more amongst linebackers than safeties.
Yet what gives Thomas so much leverage as a part of Seattle’s famed “Legion of Boom” secondary is his unique skill set to fill in the gaps left by other players. He floats through the middle of the field, covering sideline to sideline, which allows other players like Kam Chancellor and Richard Sherman to be more aggressive. Thomas is the ultimate safety net in Seattle’s defensive scheme.
Starting every single game through his first six seasons, the Seahawks got their first taste of life without Earl Thomas last season, when he suffered a broken leg 11 weeks into the season. Seattle struggled with backups who, admittedly, couldn’t reach the caliber of Thomas’ skillset.
His future after the injury is up in the air. However, still only 27, Thomas has put in a solid career with the Seahawks, playing an integral role in their run to the 2013 SuperBowl title, as well as four division crowns.
And most fans are hoping he’s not done yet.