Advance scouting: Phillip Thomas

Fresno St. safety Phillip Thomas tackles with force and plays with nastiness but may lack pure speed. Troy Babbitt/USA TODAY Sports

To help preview who might be on the Dallas Cowboys’ board for the NFL draft, ESPNDallas.com has identified five players at five key positions that we’d like to learn more about. Along those lines, we’ve asked former Cowboys assistant coach Glenn “Stretch” Smith – the official scout of Galloway & Company – to study tape of each player and give his thoughts.

No. 3 safety: Phillip Thomas

Height/weight: 6-foot-1, 208 pounds

School: Fresno State

Why he’s on the radar: The Cowboys have newly-signed veteran Will Allen, but they want to get younger at safety. Barry Church made three starts last season before tearing his Achilles tendon. Matt Johnson missed last season because of hamstring injuries, so Allen provides insurance. Drafting another safety will add competition to a position of need.

Projection: Late second early third round

Stretch Truths: This safety plays with nastiness, and he’ll tackle you with force. ... Plays tough in the box. ... Adequate cover skills to play a tight end and backs. ... A concern: He missed the 2011 season after suffering a broken leg and a dislocated ankle during a non-contact drill. ... Adequate in zone coverage, but he lacks start-and-stop cover quickness in man coverage. ... Gets caught cheating on ball fakes; I question his pure speed. But this kid will bloody your nose.