A powerful short-area player that can get push upfield. Comfortable working at a variety of techniques, including the nose, 3-technique, or directly over the guard. Has a nice first step and swim move to beat the guard or center off the snap and shoot gaps. Can be disruptive and blow up plays in the backfield. Flashes potential as a bull rusher, able to get extension and press the line of scrimmage with nice power and leg drive. Fires off the ball in short-yardage and has nice straight-line burst. Able to challenge and beat guards to their inside or outside shoulder off the ball. Shows some ability to shed the blocker and make the stop at the point of attack. Has decent range for his size. Plays with a good motor and will give chase downfield, even when he has no chance of catching the faster ballcarrier. Gives effort and will try to work through double teams.
Too often gets beat off the snap by the blocker, and has trouble shedding blocks at the point of attack because of lacking technique. Needs to use his hands better off the snap to get leverage. When a blocker gets his hands on him, particularly a guy that can match up in the power department, he struggles to disengage. Will get overextended at times when trying to get leverage from the nose spot. Doesn't play with great balance and spends too much time on the ground. Tends to be a very straight-line guy that will whiff on stops in the backfield once he does get penetration. Doesn't really do a good job disengaging from blocks laterally, and rarely makes plays in pursuit.
Thompson has the tools to be a disruptive player, but he tends to be a more of a short-area player that doesn't make a ton of plays once you get out of his wheelhouse. He has versatility to play in either a 4-3 or 3-4 scheme, and has the potential to work in either. He's probably best in a one-gap scheme, at least immediately but could easily transition to a 3-4 nose tackle down the road. A year ago, I didn't think he was in the same class as Jarvis Jenkins, but he's developed some and improved to make him a capable, albeit not a great NFL prospect. Hails from Thomasville, GA.
2011 GAMES WATCHED:
(10/1) at Virginia Tech: 0.5 TFLs, 0.5 sacks, 1 pressure
(10/22) vs. North Carolina: 1 missed tackle
(1/5) vs. West Virginia: 1 TFL; 1 penalty (illegal substituion)
2011: 14 GP/13 GS, 74 tackles, 8.0 TFLs, 2.5 sacks, 0 INTs, 2 PDs, 1 FF, 0 FR
Thompson is predominantly a run stopper, but he's not the force of nature in the middle of a defense that you want him to be in that role. He can be disruptive at times, but he struggled beating the better guards he faced. He's just not likely to be a player that is going to dominate there. He can be effective, especially if he improves his hands and technique, and learn to play with better balance. But he's more of a guy that can hold the point of attack than a guy that is going to live in opponents' backfields. If he plays the nose in a 4-3 scheme, where he can be more effective going against the lesser centers, and is team with a solid under tackle, then he should be a capable complement. In that way, I would compare him to a player like Brodrick Bunkley, who was solid but unspectacular for years besides Mike Patterson. He can work in a scheme that likes to play their tackles in multiple techniques, because he's comfortable doing that. But his best role will be as a nose tackle, because he's not going to be able to beat most starting NFL guards purely with his speed, especially with his limited technique. I do think he has the bulk and potential to project into a capable 3-4 nose tackle. Because of his ability to press the line of scrimmage, he has potential there. Again, he'll need to improve his technique and play with better balance, but he can be a load for most NFL centers if he was on the plus side of 320 pounds. I think while he could become a solid starter down the road in a scheme designed more for their nose tackle to hold blocks, than to himself be a disruptor. But more than likely, he'll be the type of guy that is either a good backup in the 3-4, or a starter that will essentially splits reps with another guy. Something like a lesser version of Aubrayo Franklin. He's always probably going to be a complementary player, that has the potential to be a good complementary player, but he himself is not going to be a playmaker. But he's the type of guy that can make other playmakers better. He's a player that I definitely see being a solid backup at the very least if he doesn't develop any further. He can go to a 4-3 team early, be a capable No. 3 or run defender in the rotation similar to a better version of Vance Walker, and then by the time his second contract rolls around could wind up signing with a 3-4 team and becoming an effective, but unspectacular starter in the same vein as a player like Dan Williams currently or formerly Bryan Robinson for the Arizona Cardinals.
Brodrick Bunkley, Saints.
Thompson could be a solid player for the Falcons in the sense that he can add some depth early on in their 4-3, but potentially transition into more of a two-gap plugger if they move towards the 3-4 down the road. For the Flacons, he'd more than likely be a good No. 3 early on, as he's potentilaly a better version of Vance Walker. Walker doesn't make a ton of plays, but generally speaking when he and Babineaux are on the field together, the Falcons run defense is at his best. He'll never be a sack artist, just a guy that might get 1-3 sacks a year either as coverage sacks or when the QB steps up in the pocket to avoid outside pressure into his waiting arms. But he can be a solid rotation player, that if the Falcons do fully commit to a 3-4 front, potentially can slide into that nose spot and be an effective to good role player.
Thompson's lack of upside would make him a reach through the first 50 or so picks in the draft. He's much better value in the third round, but for a team that was desperate to beef up their running game, particularly a team that might employ a hybrid defensive scheme, his versatility wouldn't make him the biggest reach at the tail-end of the second round.
1-pathetic, 2-poor, 3-weak, 4-below average, 5-average, 6-above average, 7-good, 8-very good, 9-excellent, 10-elite
Point of Attack: 6.5
Pass Rush: 5.0
"Vincere scis, Hannibal, victoria uti nescis" -- Maharbal, 216 B.C.E.