“He’s an Alpha” – Oregon State DB Ryan Cooper Jr. Praises Teammate Skyler Thomas as Next Star Beaver

    While fielding questions at the 2024 NFL Combine, Oregon State DB Ryan Cooper Jr. highlighted Skyler Thomas as a player to watch for the Beavers in 2024.

    After spending two years at the College of San Mateo, Ryan Cooper Jr. transferred to Oregon State in 2022. In his two seasons in Corvallis, he made plays from the slot, on the boundary, and as a safety. His versatility will catch the eye of a franchise during the 2024 NFL Draft, but at the Combine, Cooper named the Beavers’ next star defender: DB Skyler Thomas.

    Oregon State’s Ryan Cooper Jr. Pegs Skyler Thomas as Next Man Up

    When asked which Oregon State defender fans and analysts would be buzzing about this time next year, Cooper was quick to mention Thomas, describing what stands out about him: “Everything. He’s an alpha. He belongs in the NFL right now.”

    Even some hardcore Oregon State fans may have forgotten about Thomas last season, as he spent his junior campaign on the sideline due to a knee injury suffered in August.

    He joined the Beavers as a three-star CB out of Menlo Park, Calif., in the 2021 class, and while he played primarily on special teams as a freshman, he intercepted a pass against Idaho in Week 3. But he flashed his potential in 2022, playing in all 13 games, starting two, and notching nearly 200 defensive snaps as a safety on top of maintaining his role on special teams.

    KEEP READING: 2024 Pac-2 Power Rankings

    At 6’2″ and 200+ pounds, Thomas is an imposing presence in the secondary. With a CB background, he has the versatility to play man coverage on receivers and the physicality to fly downhill against the run. Prior to his ACL injury, Thomas was primed to fill a key role on the Beavers’ defense as the primary cover man at safety.

    The team’s plan is to bring Thomas along slowly this offseason, giving him light work in the spring so he is ready for preseason camp. Assuming Thomas is back to 100%, Cooper won’t be the only one singing the redshirt junior’s praises — he’ll just be the first.

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