The great thing about the NFL is that there are so many positions that every year, there is almost always at least one player who has a breakout year on every team, no matter how good or bad the team is. This is one part in a 32 part segment detailing one potential breakout player for the 2012 NFL season on each NFL team. For the San Diego Chargers, that player is defensive tackle Cam Thomas.
Cam Thomas was a 2010 5th round pick and he played very well last season in limited action. He ranked 24th among defensive tackles on ProFootballFocus, playing above average both as a run stuffer and a pass rusher, despite playing only 395 snaps. Only two players ranked higher than him played fewer snaps last season. This year, the aging Antonio Garay, heading into his age 33 season, will be playing less overall and playing some outside at defensive end rather than at nose tackle, which opens things up for Thomas to become the starter.
Last season, Thomas had 4 sacks, 1 quarterback hits, and 13 quarterback pressures on 228 pass rush snaps, good for a rate of 7.9%. His pass rush rate ranked 10th among defensive tackles and 2nd among pure nose tackles, behind only teammate Antonio Garay. He also had 13 solo tackles, 4 assists, and 14 stops, including 13 tackles, 4 assists, and 10 stops on 148 run stopping plays.
If he plays as much as Garay did last season, he would have 5 sacks, 1 quarterback hits, and 15 quarterback pressures on 263 pass rush snaps and 23 solo tackles, 9 assists, 25 stops on 256 run stuffing snaps. He could easily play even more than that this season, especially on pass rushing downs, his specialty, and break out as one of the better and complete nose tackles in the league.
If you’re interested in doing a fantasy football league with me, here’s the link (no draft date set yet, currently standard, with the option to become PPR with group vote). http://msn.foxsports.com/fantasy/football/commissioner/Registration/Private.aspx?league=55086&password=FanSpot2