Quiet demeanor. Always smiling. Gentle giant.



Not exactly words that come to mind when describing a person who makes his living in NFL trenches.



Then again, those descriptions aren’t why the Miami Dolphins selected Dallas Thomas in the third round of last month's NFL Draft.



General manager Jeff Ireland focused on other Thomas characteristics: athletic, hardworking, eager to learn.



Thomas, taken with the 77th overall pick, has an opportunity to impact Miami right away. The 6-foot-5, 306-pound Baton Rouge, La., native played both guard and tackle at Tennessee, and the Dolphins need offensive line help.



“I fully expect him to be in there and playing,” said former NFL lineman Antone Davis, football coordinator for Tennessee’s Vol For Life program. “Obviously, a lot depends on how he comes back from the injury, but I expect him to be in there and starting."

The injury Davis mentioned is a torn labrum that he suffered during Senior Bowl practice in January. Thomas attended the NFL Combine in February but did not perform drills because of a 4-6 month recuperation period.



Obviously, the labrum injury was not a major concern for the Dolphins.



“I don’t want to put any timeline on their recovery,” Ireland said after
 drafting Thomas and first-round pick Dion Jordan, who’s recovering from a similar injury. “We certainly felt comfortable drafting them where we drafted them for them to make a contribution this season.”



Davis said Miami probably liked Thomas’ versatility at tackle and guard.



“It makes you more valuable to the team,” said Davis, who played tackle and guard at UT before a pro career with the Philadelphia Eagles and Atlanta Falcons. “The most impressive thing about Dallas is he switched from tackle to guard without complaining about it. Most guys, after playing a while at a position, don’t like being asked to change.”



Thomas was a two-year starter at left tackle when he moved to left guard so the Vols could get their five best linemen in the game.



“I called him in and I explained the reasons why,” said former UT offensive line coach Sam Pittman, speaking this week while on the recruiting trail for Arkansas. “I also thought it could help him in the draft.