BROWNS SELECT OT JOE THOMAS WITH FIRST-ROUND SELECTION
(Opening Statement)- "Initially we said we were going to meet with the media after our third pick. Obviously, as things developed in the draft, it was well worth our while to stay with it. Ultimately we ended up with Joe Thomas and Brady Quinn which is a scenario that we could have only imagined in our sleep. This is a day that will go down as the day the fortunes of the Browns will turn around. If we are going to do it, this will be one of those stepping stone days. We were able to add a left tackle and a quarterback who could potentially play a long time. You combine that with the additions of Eric Steinbach, Jamal Lewis, the return of Kellen Winslow and Braylon Edwards. All of the sudden, we're more legitimate than we've ever been. We felt it was worth the chance to go ahead and get Brady."
(On Joe Thomas) - "We felt like Joe was a solid player. People reported that the Browns didn't know what they were going to do. We've known what we were going to do at that third pick depending on what happened in front of us. Joe Thomas is a bona fide left tackle and a legitimate building block. You could say he's not an impact player, but we felt that he helps strengthen the offensive line, which makes our running game better, protects our quarterback and gives our receivers a chance to play. The residual effect of that will be his impact, so we felt he will be an impact player. Even in April when we know he's not a real sexy pick. We're not concerned about April, we're concerned about what happens in September. I think of two games. Against Baltimore, we were up 14-3. We couldn't run the ball to maintain possession and close the game out. Against Pittsburgh, we were up 20-10. We went three and out on a couple of occasions and we couldn't close the game out. We felt like Joe Thomas is going to help us run the ball better along with Eric Steinbach and Jamal Lewis. When you are ranked 30th in running the ball and stopping the run, the quarterback is not the problem. We felt like Joe Thomas was the right thing to do. One of the scouts said something to me that stayed with me during the process. He said that since 1999, this team has tried to serve apple pie for dinner. He said we need to do something in the interior lines before we worry about doing anything else. When we got Joe, I felt like we could finally serve steak and potatoes for dinner. That was really where we were after the first pick."
(On Joe Thomas) - "We felt like Joe Thomas was the wisest choice. I tried to drop a hint to you guys when I said, "that would be the wise thing to do." Most of you didn't pick up on that. I tried to drop you a clue as we went through this process."
(On Joe Thomas)- "I think that Joe Thomas is a good football player and he's solid all the way around. He has solid character, he is a solid individual and he's a solid player. When he competes for a spot, that gives us the opportunity to solidify the offensive line. We know that the offensive line needed work. We decided to attack that problem and we were fortunate that Joe was there. When you talk to the young man, he has a good confidence about himself and his ability. I think he's well rounded. Rather than going to New York with the bright lights, he chose to go fishing on the lake with his parents. I feel really good about that and I think the community will feel good about that type of guy. Rather than being in the bright lights, he would rather be with his father doing something that he enjoys. I think we are going to appreciate that from him in this blue-collar town. We topped that off with being able to draft Brady Quinn. He's a guy who wanted to be a Brown and that wish is coming true for him. We had him rated on our board and for him to still be there made us excited about that. He'll come in here and help this team compete. We are trying to bring solid guys in here who we can deal with and that will be competitive."
(On the effect Joe Thomas brings to the offensive line) - "The biggest impact will be the passing game. The left tackle has to protect the quarterback's blind side when you have a right-handed quarterback. He has demonstrated that he has good feet, has some length and long arms. He's competitive and he will be able to set quickly. We'll feel like he'll have an impact in the passing game as well as his size in the running game. Usually, the left side of the line is not the power side. Usually, it's the right side. Quarterbacks are right-handed and teams are usually more right-handed than left-handed. That puts him on the backside where he'll be involved with cutoff blocks. He's bee exposed to a power offense at Wisconsin."
(On where Joe Thomas will play)- "He'll probably play at left tackle, but we'll give him an opportunity to win the job."
(Opening Statement)- "I'm incredibly thrilled to be picked by the Cleveland Browns right now. I'm excited about starting a new life in the beautiful city of Cleveland. I want to help the Browns get back to the winning tradition of old."
(On the fishing)- "The fishing was slow. We caught a couple of fish, but the water was fantastic. It was a great way to keep my mind off of what was going on in the draft."
(On being surprised by being selected by the Browns)- "No, it didn't surprise me. I hoped that Cleveland would pick me after I met the personnel and the coaches. They really had shown a lot of interest along the way and I knew it would be a good fit for me."
(On why Cleveland is a good fit for him)- "I grew up in Milwaukee and I see Milwaukee and Cleveland as similar towns. I'm looking forward to the people and the town. I loved the coaches, the staff and the facility. I felt like I was right at home, just as I feel when I'm back home in Milwaukee. I met a couple of guys on the team and they seem like great people. They were all focused on bringing this team back to glory."
(On playing at a high level from day one) - "I'm very convinced I can do that. My goal this off season was to be prepared from day one, to be a starter and be an impact player. That's the way I approached the NFL combine, my pro day and the NFL Draft. I wasn't worried about where I was going to go, but I want to be prepared so I can help my team win games. That's why I feel like I'll be prepared from day one."
(On the tackle position) - "If you look at the tackle position, it's been the safest pick in the top ten. You talking about a good possibility of a top five tackle being a Pro Bowl player. He's going to be a guy who could potentially go to the Hall of Fame. If you are going to get a Pro Bowl tackle, you have to get him in the top five. I feel like there might have been a couple of guys in the past five or six years who haven't panned out, but I think I'm a vastly different person. My attitude and competitiveness will not let me fail."
(On the left side of the offensive line) - "I'm really excited. A couple of weeks after I visited Cleveland, I sat down in my head coach's office and asked him about (Eric) Steinbach. He said he was a great person, a phenomenal athlete and a great player. He's the type of player who I would get along with and play well next to. I was really excited about that."
(On where he is fishing) - "We're fishing on Lake Michigan out of Port Washington, Wisconsin, which is north of Milwaukee. The morning has been a little slow, but we hooked a big one as we are pulling into shore."
(On Robert Gallery) - "I think Robert is getting a lot of heat that's not due to him. He's in a very tough situation right now and has had three different coaches in his first three years. He hasn't been getting consistent coaching taught to him and as a tackle, that's huge. It's important to have the proper technique and the confidence behind that technique. Robert and I do have different games and I feel I have a much more polished technique. I feel like I'm more ready to start from day one."
(On having any regrets that he's not in New York with the rest of the top draft picks) - "Not at all. I'm going to be in Cleveland this afternoon to meet with the media. I wanted to be with my family this morning because they are helping take some of the pressure and nervousness off me. They did an excellent job of that and I've been very relaxed this entire morning. We had an inkling that Cleveland would draft me and I was really hoping they would. It was hard for me to hide my excitement. It ended up coming through and I'm excited to come to Cleveland tonight to meet more of the people, the media and to start my life."
(On the importance of signing early and getting off to a good start) - "I think it's important. As an offensive lineman, you want to get in there and learn the system. You want to get to know to the coaches and the guys you are going to play next to. For me, I think I have a jump start already because a lot of the offensive style in Cleveland is similar to what I was doing in college. I think a lot of our coaching points and calls were the same on the offensive line. I think I have a jump start already, but it's important for me to obtain my goal and start right away. I want to get into camp on time and get the deal done."
(On his previous injury) - "I don't have any problems with it. I felt 100 percent playing with the injury in the second half of the year. I feel better than I did the year before and the knee injury will not affect me at all. It's not even a thought in my mind at this point."
(On who is on the boat with him) - "It's my dad, my father-in-law to be, my mentor Joe Panos, the NFL Network camera and myself."
(On reeling in a fish) - "Yeah, we just got the biggest fish of the day. It looks like it's a brown trout."
(On the Browns not selecting an offensive lineman early in the draft for a long time) - "It does surprise me a little bit because Cleveland is a blue-collar city who likes their offensive linemen. That's the type of city that likes offensive line type of play. I'm happy with the fact I'm going to be part of the Cleveland Browns family."
(On handling taking over a job from a veteran) - "I'm waiting to see what the coaches are going to do with me when I get there. I've been preparing this off season to make a position switch if I have to. If they do put me on the left side and they do something with Kevin Shaffer, it might be a difficult thing, but it's something that we can work through."
JOSEPH "Joe" THOMAS
University of Wisconsin Badgers
Brookfield Central High School
Regarded by many as the best offensive lineman in college football, Joe comes from a school deep in tradition in producing All-American offensive linemen. Ever since the days of Ray "Tubby" Keeler (1913) through Chris McIntosh (1999), the Badgers have been known for their blocking performances. Thomas is considered the most dominating blocker to wear a Wisconsin uniform since the days of Paul Gruber (1985-87) and Joe could join Dennis Lick (1974-75) as the only Badgers offensive linemen to earn All-American accolades twice in a career.
While most offensive linemen are "lumberjack" types who occupy space, Joe is much different than the normal mold you look for in a tackle. He has performed admirably as a tight end in short yardage situations and excelled in goal-line duties on the defensive line. Thomas is not only hailed for his exploits on the gridiron, but has also garnered national recognition for record-breaking performances in track and field. He was a 2005 second-team All-Big Ten Conference selection, as he qualified for the 20004 and '05 NCAA Regional's in the shot put and discus. He also holds the school indoor record in the shot put (62'1 ¼").
In 2006, Thomas became the first Wisconsin player to win the Outland Trophy. Joe also became the third Big Ten Conference player in four years to win Outland Trophy, which goes to the top interior lineman in college football. Iowa offensive tackle Robert Gallery won the Outland in 2003 and Minnesota center Greg Eslinger captured it in 2005. In all, 13 players from current Big Ten schools have won the award.
"I was very excited to win the award," Thomas said. "A lot of emotion goes through your mind. It kind of hits you all at once. You kind of forget things for a couple of minutes. You're walking on Cloud Nine. All three of us (finalists) had a great shot of winning. All three of us were very deserving." Joe, who is projected as one of the top picks in the 2007 NFL Draft, was the mainstay of a Badger offensive line, which paved the way for freshman running back P.J. Hill. The Badgers' offense was 21st in the country, scoring 30.3 points per game.
By winning the 61st Outland Trophy, he received a nice present three days after he turned 22. Two days later, he was engaged to Annie Nelson, a former Wisconsin basketball player. The Outland is the third oldest award in major college football behind the Heisman Trophy and Maxwell Award. Joe was a Prep Star (first-team) and USA Today (second-team) All-American offensive lineman at Brookfield Central High School. He was rated the fourth-best offensive tackle in the nation according to Tom Lemming's Prep Football Report and ranked among top 20 offensive tackles nationally, top 25 players in the Midwest and was rated the third-best player in Wisconsin according to Rivals.com. Thomas added Detroit Free Press All-Midwest, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel first-team All-State honors as a defensive lineman and second-team All-State accolades as an offensive tackle as a senior.
Thomas was also a first-team All-State defensive pick by the Wisconsin Football Coaches Association and Associated Press. He was chosen 2002 WFCA Defensive Player of the Year with fellow Badger Justin Ostrowski, as Joe recorded 85 tackles and 12 quarterback sacks as a senior, adding 70 tackles and eight sacks his junior campaign. He was a three-time All-Conference selection in football, lettering four times in that sport. He also lettered four times in both track and basketball. He captained the football and basketball teams his senior year and was a four-time Honor Roll student, in addition to garnering U.S. Army Academic All-American honors. In track, Joe finished fifth in the national finals in the shot put as a junior. He earned All-Conference, All-Area and All-State recognition in both the shot put and discus.
Thomas enrolled at Wisconsin in 2003 and immediately provided key contributions. He was utilized most of the season as a blocking tight end, but when injured depleted the defensive line, Thomas shifted to left defensive end, producing seven tackles with a stop behind the line of scrimmage vs. Auburn in the Music City Bowl.
Joe took over left offensive tackle duties from Morgan Davis in 2004. He earned Academic All-Big Ten Conference and All-District honors, adding honorable mention All-Big Ten recognition for his performance on the field. He graded 82.5% for blocking consistency and produced 13 touchdown-resulting blocks and 74 knockdowns, including 48 on run plays.
In the spring of 2005, Joe set the school indoor track record in the shot put. On the football field, he came into his own as a blocker, earning second-team All-American and consensus All-Big Ten Conference first-team accolades. He led the nation's down linemen with an 87.1% grade for blocking consistency, as he also paced the NCAA Division 1-A blockers with an incredible 29 touchdown-resulting blocks (team had 53 touchdown drives on offense). He collected 110 knockdowns, made 19 crucial blocks downfield and allowed four quarterback sacks on 909 plays. The Draddy Award semifinalist returned to action with a vengeance in 2006. He continued his dominance, as Joe led the nation's down linemen with a 92% grade for blocking consistency. He has produced 127 key blocks/knockdowns with 27 touchdown-resulting blocks and recorded two solo tackles. He also delivered 21 downfield blocks.
In 47 games at Wisconsin, Joe started 37 times at left offensive tackle and once on the defensive line. He registered 311 knockdown blocks with 69 of those stops resulting in Wisconsin touchdowns. He registered 56 of his blocks downfield and graded 87.39% for blocking consistency. He also registered 12 tackles (5 solos).
In 47 games at Wisconsin, Thomas started 37 contests at left offensive tackle and one at left defensive end...Registered 311 knockdown blocks, with 193 coming in run support... Joe was credited with 69 touchdown-resulting blocks and made 56 blocks down field...He was only penalized three times on 2,571 offensive plays and has amassed an 87.39% grade for blocking consistency...Thomas also recorded 12 tackles (5 solos) with a stop for a 2-yard loss and two quarterback pressures on defense...In 2005, Joe became the seventh Wisconsin offensive tackle to earn All-American honors in the last 50 years, joining Dan Lamphear (1959, the team's first left tackle to earn national honors), Dennis Lick (team's only two-time winner; 1974-75), Ray Snell (1979), Paul Gruber (1987), Aaron Gibson (1998) and Chris McIntosh (1999)...Thomas is only the fifth player in school history to be a semifinalist for the Lombardi Award (2005-06) and only the second to receive that recognition twice in a career, given to the nation's outstanding college lineman, joining Aaron Gibson (1998 finalist), Wendell Bryant (2000-01 semifinalist) and Erasmus James (2004 finalist)...In 2006, Thomas became the first Wisconsin player to win the Outland Trophy (nation's top lineman) and the first offensive lineman since Chris McIntosh in 1999 to earn Associated Press All-American first-team honors...In track, Joe holds the school indoor record in the shot put with a 62'01¼" toss in 2005, topping the old mark of 61'07¼" by Jeff Braun in March, 1979...His career-best outdoor shot put throw of 62'05¼" ranks fourth on the school's record books behind Anders Holmstrom (63'09" in May, 2000), Jeff Braun (63'02" in June, 1979) and Paul Belke (62'06¼" in June, 1992)...His career-best outdoor discus toss of 178'0" rank sixth in school history, topped only by Pete Leach (186'0" in April, 1992), Anders Holmstrom (185'04" in May, 2000), Clint Englund (184'09") in May, 1990), Rob Salamo (181'03" in April, 2000) and Dave Niemuth (179'11" in May, 1983)...Thomas also excelled in the classroom, twice earning ESPN Academic All-District V and Academic All-Big Ten Conference honors.
Thomas was a unanimous All-American first-team selection, receiving honors from The NFL Draft Report, The Sporting News, Associated Press, ESPN, the Football Writers Association, Walter Camp Foundation, American Football Coaches Association and Sports Illustrated...The team captain was also the recipient of the National Scholar-Athlete Postgraduate Scholarship ($18,000) from the National Football Foundation and Hall of Fame...He added ESPN Academic All-American second-team, Academic All-District first-team from CoSIDA and Academic All-Big Ten Conference first-team honors...Was also a finalist for the Draddy Trophy, the National Football Foundation's academic award (college football's top scholar athlete)...Thomas became the school's first player to win the Outland Trophy...He was a finalist for the Wuerffel Trophy (community service, academic and athletic achievement) and a semifinalist for the Lombardi Award...The team captain was also the Badgers' Most Valuable Player...Thomas led NCAA Division 1-A blockers with a 92.0% grade for blocking consistency, producing 127 knockdowns/key blocks with 27 touchdown-resulting blocks and 21 blocks downfield...He also recorded a pair of solo tackles...Joe graded at least 90% in nine contests and had double-digit knockdowns in eight of those games.
Thomas earned first-team All-American honors from The NFL Draft Report and Pro Football Weekly, adding second-team accolades from the Walter Camp Foundation and Sports Illustrated...The Lombardi Award semifinalist was a consensus first-team All-Big Ten Conference choice...He added Academic All-Big Ten and ESPN Academic All-District V accolades...Thomas started every game at left offensive tackle, earning Player of the Game honors vs. Bowling Green and Penn State...In 909 plays, he graded higher for blocking consistency (87.1%) than any Division 1-A offensive tackle...Joe registered 110 knockdowns and had key blocks on 29 of the team's 53 touchdown drives...He posted 19 downfield blocks and allowed five sacks for the year...He also recorded three solo tackles, but suffered a knee injury while playing on the defensive line vs. Auburn in the Capital One Bowl... Thomas' stellar blocking resulted in the team averaging 396.5 yards per game in total offense.
Thomas earned All-Big Ten honorable mention and was an Academic All-Big Ten and ESPN Academic All-District V selection after taking over left offensive tackle duties...He helped the team average 160.9 yards per game rushing and 328.1 yards in total offense... Despite being the youngest member of the offensive line he allowed only four of the 20 sacks given up by the front wall, grading 83.1% for blocking consistency...He ranked second on the team with 74 knockdowns, with 48 coming on rushing plays...Credited with 13 touchdown-resulting blocks and made 16 blocks downfield... Recorded three solo tackles and started 12 games.
Thomas appeared in 10 games as a true freshman, wearing jersey #82...He lined up as a tight end in short yardage situations, but was shifted to left defensive end, starting vs. Auburn in the Music City Bowl when injuries depleted the Badgers defensive line, forcing the coaching staff to move their talented rookie to the other side of the ball...Thomas also appeared on the Wisconsin offensive line, becoming the first true freshman in the Barry Alvarez era to accomplish that feat.
Thomas was a standout performer on Wisconsin's track & field squad (2004-05) as a weight man...Joe holds the school indoor record in the shot put with a 62'01¼" toss in 2005, topping the old mark of 61'07¼" by Jeff Braun in March, 1979...His career-best outdoor shot put throw of 62'05¼" rank fourth on the school's record books behind Anders Holmstrom (63'09" in May, 2000), Jeff Braun (63'02" in June, 1979) and Paul Belke (62'06¼" in June, 1992)...His career-best outdoor discus toss of 178'0" rank sixth in school history, topped only by Pete Leach (186'0" in April, 1992), Anders Holmstrom (185'04" in May, 2000), Clint Englund (184'09") in May, 1990), Rob Salamo (181'03" in April, 2000) and Dave Niemuth (179'11" in May, 1983).
CAMPUS AGILITY TESTS
5.09 in the 40-yard dash...Bench presses 225 pounds 28 times...32 ½-inch arm length...
9 ¾-inch hands...Right-handed...29/34 Wonderlic score.
COMBINE AGILITY TESTS
5.00 in the 40-yard dash...1.79 10-yard dash...2.93 20-yard dash...4.88 20-yard shuttle...
(DNP) 60-yard shuttle...7.95 three-cone drill...Bench pressed 225 pounds 28 times.
33 inch vertical jump...9.02 broad jump.
Attended Brookfield (Wisc.) Central High School, playing football for head coach Rick Synold...Joe was a Prep Star (first-team) and USA Today (second-team) All-American offensive lineman...Rated the fourth-best offensive tackle in the nation according to Tom Lemming's Prep Football Report and ranked among top 20 offensive tackles nationally, top 25 players in the Midwest and was rated the third-best player in Wisconsin according to Rivals.com...Added Detroit Free Press All-Midwest, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel first-team All-State honors as a defensive lineman and second-team All-State accolades as an offensive tackle as a senior...First-team All-State defensive pick by the Wisconsin Football Coaches Association and Associated Press...Chosen 2002 WFCA Defensive Player of the Year with fellow Badger Justin Ostrowski, as Joe recorded 85 tackles and twelve quarterback sacks as a senior, adding 70 tackles and eight sacks his junior campaign....Three-time All-Conference selection in football, lettering four times in that sport...Also lettered four times in both track and basketball. He captained the football and basketball teams his senior year and was a four-time Honor Roll student, in addition to garnering U.S. Army Academic All-American honors...In track, Joe finished fifth in the national finals in the shot put as a junior and was second in the shot put and tenth in the discus at the 2003 Adidas Outdoor Championships...Earned All-Conference, All-Area and All-State recognition in both the shot put and discus...Thomas won the 2003 Wisconsin state title in the shot put and discus and was the conference, regional and sectional champion in the shot put and discus during his final season...Finished fifth in the shot put at the 2002 Adidas Outdoor Championships...Placed third in the shot put and fourth in the discus at the state meet as a junior...Was the sectional and conference champion in the shot and discus that year.
Business major, with an emphasis in Real Estate and Urban Land Economics...Earned Academic All-Big Ten Conference and ESPN Academic All-District V honors (2004-05)...Son of Sally and Eric Thomas...Born 12/4/84...Resides in Brookfield, Wisconsin.
NOTE-Played in a total of 47 games (46 on offense, one on defense), earning 38 starts (37 at offensive tackle, one at defensive line).