For a third time in five years, Earl Thomas checks in at No. 66 on NFL Network's Top 100 Players list.
The Seahawks free safety was unveiled at that unusually familiar spot during Wednesday night's countdown of players ranked No. 70-61, an index voted on by NFL players themselves.
Selected by Seattle with the No. 14 overall pick in the 2010 NFL Draft, Thomas enters his seventh season with the Seahawks holding five Pro Bowl honors, three first-team All-Pro and two second-team All-Pro selections. He led the Seahawks with five interceptions last year (T-5th NFL), recording 64 tackles, nine passes defensed and a forced fumble while helping lead a unit that finished first in scoring defense for a fourth year in a row.
Shortly after the Seahawks' season-ending loss to the Carolina Panthers in the divisional round of the playoffs, Seattle head coach Pete Carroll said he plans to "go to school" with both quarterback Russell Wilson and the 27-year-old Thomas this offseason to help each player better understand the opposite side of the football.
"Earl also wants to learn even more in-depth about what's going on up front," Carroll said. "These guys have been around long enough now that it's time to take them to all of the avenues that they can to understand the game. It'll just broaden their horizons, it'll allow them to understand more so, they'll make declarations and decisions more quickly because they'll understand schematically even more so.
"I want them to understand the other side in greater depth," Carroll added. "Those guys in particular—other guys will go along with that—those guys in particular are guys that love to study the game and they want to know more and they want to know everything. You can only take in so much. We wouldn't want to water down the process by trying to do too much early, but I think it's time now. ... It's time to really dig in."
Thomas, who was ranked No. 66 in 2012 and 2013 before ascending to No. 17 in 2014 and No. 21 this past year, joins wide receiver Doug Baldwin as Seahawks players to make NFL Network's Top 100 cut so far. Baldwin was revealed at No. 72 last week, his first career appearance on the countdown.
NFL Network's Top 100 Players of 2016 continues next Wednesday, June 1 with players ranked No. 60-51.