EXCLSUIVE: David Te Thomas is one of the founders of NFL Scouting Services and the NFL Draft Report. He Talks Spartans in the 2013 & 2014 Draft
SPARTAN NATION: David Te Thomas is one of the founders of NFL Scouting Services and the NFL Draft Report. We’re very honored to have him. David Te, welcome to the program.
DAVID TE THOMAS: Hey big guy. How you doing? Let me tell you one thing. That game (Rose Bowl) was fantastic but if Michigan State only would of beat Notre Dame, Florida State would have been going home a loser.
SPARTAN NATION: I totally agree with you. We’re gonna start with an obvious player. Why is Darqueze Dennard special?
DAVID TE THOMAS: You know, you look at what he does out there on the football field… Outside of a kid that won the Heisman Trophy from Michigan years ago, I think Dennard is probably the most technically sound cornerback I’ve seen since Charles Woodson came out of the Wolverine program.
SPARTAN NATION: Wow, that’s high praise.
DAVID TE THOMAS: I expect him to be not only a top-ten pick, I challenge anybody on this planet to find me a better cornerback at any level than Darqueze Dennard. The only knock on Darqueze is look what happened with the two TD catches he gave up this year. Coming from a static leaping point, you know he’s gonna give up a few inches to those bigger receivers. But if this kid gets a run on the ball and goes up in the air, it’s like watching Superman going after the pigskin.
SPARTAN NATION: Now you’re also talking about another guy that we here in the Spartan Nation love, Denicos Allen.
DAVID TE THOMAS: Oh, you mean “little train”? That’s what we call him over here because I think I can, I know I can, I know I can. What he does out there on the football field, I have been telling every NFL team out there, if you’re playing a cover two defense, you don’t play this guy on the outside. You move him inside in the 3, 4. Why? Because he is a smart man. Why? He has a nose for the football like no football player in the college ranks does today. Sure the NFL is gonna turn around and say, Well you know he’s 5’11” and 216. I can put a grade on him. I’m not concerned about his height. I mean, go look at London Fletcher. I don’t think anybody’s gonna toss London back in the scrap pile over the last 19 years.
SPARTAN NATION: I agree with you. What are your thoughts on Max Bullough?
DAVID TE THOMAS: I like him. He’s the type of guy that when I’m coming up in the third day of the draft, around the fifth round, I’m definitely looking at this guy. The guy is dirt. You know you put him out there… You look at Damon Harrison with the New York Jets. Nobody really gave him much of a thought saying, Well he’s a college player. No, this kid’s got good bloodlines. Not only good bloodlines, he has good instincts out there on the football field. As a middle linebacker I need a guy who’s gonna be a coach out there on the football field. He not only knows what to do, he knows what everybody else should be doing out there.
SPARTAN NATION: Is there anyone else on this 2013 team from Michigan State that’s piqued your interest?
DAVID TE THOMAS: Oh yeah. The other safety over there, Isaiah Lewis. I consider him the most underrated strong safety in this draft. You know, a lot of teams are still saying round 5, but that’s fine. Hey, he just wants to get into training camp and prove his worth. You look at him and you look at Ryan Clark in his heyday before he self imploded this year in 2013… But Lewis has a lot of good hitting ability. I like the way that he plays downhill. Yeah, this kid’s gonna come into the NFL and he’ll be starting within a couple of seasons.
SPARTAN NATION: Any Spartans for 2014 already piquing your interest?
DAVID TE THOMAS: Let me tell you one thing — I look at the Michigan State team and I look at what they’ve got coming back next year… You look at what Dennard did, not only what Dennard did on the football field, but look at the way he brought Waynes along. Waynes learned alot from Dennard last year. So now Waynes is gonna carry that over to the new crop that’s gonna be there next season. And then when you’ve got a defensive end like Calhoun, I mean my God… If Narduzzi stays at Michigan State, which I think is a sacrileg right now that Louisville did not pick up the phone and made a call over to the 517 area code. If anybody deserves to be a head coach in college ranks right now, it is the genius. When you look at what Narduzzi did with that defense out there…no knock on the kids, they were very good ball players…but he got the element out in them. When you look at Narduzzi out there in a game, it’s like watching a chess match. They’re going up against a bunch of Offensive Coordinators that’s still trying to learn how to play checkers.
SPARTAN NATION: When you are evaluating players, what is the most underrated factor in a player that you think people overlook?
DAVID TE THOMAS: Well, let’s take cornerback for instance. The most overrated fact that they look at is the amount of interceptions. What is an interception going to do for me if a guy has given up 5 or 6 touchdowns in a season? Look at Dennard; that was a classic case-in-point. 118 passes were thrown in his area this year, only 18 were completed. I have to look at a cornerback like Dennard, where here it is a quarterback is given a first and second look at targets and cannot find anybody open because he’s covering them like a blanket. I look at a defensive lineman…I don’t care about his stats. I care about his run containment, the plays that he makes on 3rd down, the pressure that he applies to the quarterback. These are things that I look for. I don’t go by the normal statistics. As you’ve seen from my charts that I’ve sent across to you. Look at Dennard. Less than 1 yard per pass attempt in his area. There’s only been two other players since I kept stats in 1968 that have accomplished that in a season: Jim Marsalis and Deion Sanders. That’s good company to be in.
SPARTAN NATION: Back in 1968 if I had told you the draft would have been carried on two major networks over 3 days in primetime and become as big as it had, would you have ever believed it?
DAVID TE THOMAS: Yeah I would have, because you know what happens? You get more and more knowledgeable fans. And especially with Fantasy Football out here. I mean, you’ve got everybody right now that just sits at home and plays General Manager. See, with us we’re not like Kiper, we’re not like McShay, we’re not gonna come out there with our bouffant hairdos and button count things and using that classic line, My sources indicate. No, what do you indicate? What do you say? Don’t sit down there… See, I think what they call us are the anti-draft analysts. I’m not gonna tell you who’s gonna be 1st or 2nd in the draft. I don’t give a darn who’s the 1st pick in the draft. But I’ll tell you about that Joe Blow that’s gonna start walking out of the free agent market and all of the sudden being an all-pro 3 years down the road. When you go out there and you look at a ball player, don’t look at what he is now. Look at what he’s gonna be down the road.
SPARTAN NATION: When you’re evaluating a player, how much do you look at where they come from?
DAVID TE THOMAS: Well, I gotta not only look at where they come from but the competition that they’ve gone up against. You look at some of these players out there… And then also, one thing I gotta look at, the most important thing when I sit down with a ball player is his eyes. I gotta see if there’s hunger inside those eyes. You know, you go look at that kid from South Carolina. If you drop the “ey” from the last of his name, that’s what he is off the football field. Am I gonna go out there and draft Clowney who’s the 1st round draft pick? Hell no. This kid is either gonna end up in the obituary column one day because of his speeding on the road… And then you look at his total disregard for the team this year. How could you go ahead and draft this kid? This is a kid that, Well you know Coach I don’t feel like playing today. And Spurrier, of all coaches, lets him get away with it with just a snide remark in the postgame? You go look at Taylor Lewan with Michigan. I mean, this kid right now should be hanging out with Richie Incognito somewhere. I have never seen a kid get away with so much crap on the football field by being a dirty football player. I need character in my locker room. I need guys that I can trust on the football field. I can’t trust Lewan, I can’t trust Clowney, and I definitely cannot trust the Justin Bieber imitation in Johnny Manziel.