Panthers draft Thomas with 1st pick of 4th round

It didn’t take long for Ian Thomas to find his new home on Saturday.

The Carolina Panthers selected Thomas with the first pick of the fourth round, making the former Hoosier the highest drafted tight end in IU program history.

Thomas and former Hoosier Ted Bolser, who was selected by the Washington Redskins in the seventh round of the 2014 NFL Draft, are the only two IU tight ends to be drafted in the last 46 years.

Thomas was the sixth tight end taken in this year’s draft.

The Panthers will be looking to tap into Thomas’ upside after the junior college product illustrated flashes of next-level potential during his two years with the Hoosiers.

Although he played in all 13 games of the 2016 season, Thomas made only modest contributions as a junior. But his role changed leading into his senior year, when the Baltimore native seized the starting tight end job and closed fall camp as one of IU’s most intriguing offensive weapons.

Thomas opened the season with five catches for 53 yards and a career-high two touchdowns in the opener against Ohio State, announcing his presence to a national audience. Nagging injuries prevented Thomas from fully capitalizing on his final year of eligibility, but he still finished second among Big Ten tight ends with 15.0 yards per reception. He tied for third among players at his position with five receiving touchdowns and was fourth in receiving yardage (37.6 yards per game) and catches per game (2.5).

After the season, Thomas garnered All-Big Ten Honorable Mention recognition, along with a spot on the Senior Bowl Watch List.


  1. Thomas got on good team and I hope he opens up some eyes this Fall in the NFL. I had a punter that played for the Panthers and was one of the presenters for them in the NFL Draft this year. It is good to see Thomas get with a good team and not with one struggling. With all that has gone on in his life I hope he has a NFL career that is uninterrupted until he chooses to retire.

  2. Really good fortune to go to the Panthers. It is an extremely well run organization that makes a point of keeping problems and problem players away from the franchise. Greg Olson just signed a 2 year extension that will carry him to retirement (and a good shot at the HOF). He is known for mentoring younger players and Ian will likely need a while to bring up his skills to NFL level.

    Charlotte is a good place to live without the circus of an NYC or Dallas.

    Cam and the offensive scheme utilize the TE extensively.

    Looks like a good place for him to be.

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