NFL Draft: Former Pace Academy star, UGA’s Andrew Thomas likely a Top 15 pick

Andrew Thomas-Montlick & Associates Athlete of the Week

The 2020 NFL draft will go down in history as unique as general managers and coaches figure out how to make their selections from home amid the coronavirus pandemic. The normal gathering of the nation’s elite college players at the draft site won’t happen either. Most of those players will be watching from home.

WSB-TV NFL Draft Special: Watch Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. on Channel 2

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That means a few dozen homes across the country will be buzzing with excitement come Thursday night for the first round of the NFL draft, including a handful in Georgia.

Experts forecast four former Georgia high school football stars to be selected in the first round of the NFL draft. Most expect former Lanier High School and Auburn defensive tackle Derrick Brown and former Pace Academy and UGA offensive lineman Andrew Thomas to be the first two. Alabama’s Xavier McKinney and Clemson’s A.J. Terrell are the others.

Andrew Thomas (Pace) commits to UGA

WSB-TV introduced viewers to Thomas back in 2016. At the time, he was the fifth ranked recruit in Georgia, one behind future UGA teammate Jake Fromm, and was named one of the station’s Montlick and Associates Athlete of the Week.

Brown ranked as the 45th highest ranked recruit in the country that year.

When Thomas arrived in Athens, he picked up right where he left off in high school. The right tackle started all 15 games as a true freshman, something almost unheard of in the SEC. ESPN, USA Today and the Football Writers Association of America all named him to their Freshmen All-American teams.

Former UGA lineman Andrew Thomas focused on his health ahead of draft

His sophomore year brought a transition to left tackle and the accolades followed. He was named to the 2018 SI.com All-American first team, Coaches All-SEC first team and more.

Thomas leaves Georgia following his junior year, but by all accounts, he’s ready.

Experts expect Thomas to be a top 15 pick in the draft. ESPN senior writer Jeff Legwold named Thomas the 14th best player in the draft.

“Thomas started 41 games in three years and won the SEC’s best blocker award in 2019. He could play at either tackle spot due to his powerful hands and quality fundamentals. He should improve quickly as a pro, especially if he smooths rough edges in pass protection,” Legwold noted.