Career Recap: Coming out of high school, Thompson was one of the top recruits in the nation. Thompson rotated onto the field as a freshman totaling 25 tackles with one sack. As a sophomore, Thompson really improved throughout the season and started to flash a special skill set. He totaled 56 tackles with 9.5 tackles for a loss, five sacks, and a pass broken up. Thompson ended his junior year in superb fashion as he dominated the AutoZone Liberty Bowl against TCU (see below) recording three sacks. That game was a coming out party for Thompson and illustrated that he could be poised for a huge junior season.
2017 Season Outlook: As one can expect, Thompson is going to see some good offensive line talent as a junior. His best test of the season, however, will come outside of the conference in Week 2 when Georgia takes on Notre Dame. Fighting Irish guard Quenton Nelson is a beast and could be a top-25 pick in the 2018 NFL Draft. Hopefully, Thompson lines up against Nelson because that would be a great matchup of two linemen who could go on to being special players at their position in the NFL.
Aside from that game, Thompson will see some quality offensive line talent against Tennessee, Florida and Auburn in early November.
Skill-Set Summary: There is a lot to like about Thompson as his physical talent really sets him apart. He is a big body with excellent speed at the point of attack. Along with having speed, Thompson is an agile athlete with some natural size and length. His versatile size and athletic upside make him a fit for any defensive scheme with the potential to be a difference-maker at the next level.
One of the hardest things to find for a NFL defense is interior defensive linemen capable of being steady pass-rushers. Thompson is that rare kind of defender as he has a lot of ability to get after the quarterback. In the pass rush, Thompson is a fast interior defender who routinely fires by guards to collapse the pocket. He can bolt by guards, use his speed to loop around the line on stunts, and close on the quarterback in an instant. Thompson is very fast at firing his gap to create disruption in the backfield with an impressive ability to redirect to chase down quarterbacks and running backs. The speed also extends to run defense, where he can flow down the line to get tackles near the line of scrimmage.
Thompson also has size and strength to hold his ground in run defense. He uses his power to shed blocks in the ground game and in the pass rush. As a junior, Thompson could get better at holding his gap against downhill runs coming straight at him. He also should improve his conditioning; when he gets tired, he can play too high, which allows guards to push him back in the run game by getting under his pads. Improving his overall technique and conditioning, along with playing at a consistent level are the points of improvement for Thompson in 2017.
For the NFL, Thompson would be a great fit as a three-technique speedy disruptor in a 4-3 defense. He also has the versatility and length to be a five-technique defensive end in a 3-4 defense who also rushes from the inside in passing situations. Thompson has a ton of athletic upside with the ability to take games over. He has the potential to be one of the top defensive line prospects for the 2018 NFL Draft.
2018 NFL Draft Expectations: Entering the 2017 season, sources have said that Thompson has first-round ability. If he has a big season getting after the quarterback, he go high on Thursday night during the 2018 NFL Draft.