Summary: Thompson can be a disruptive at the line of scrimmage. He has the ability to bust through the line and cause havoc in the run game. He has natural pad level, and he often gets under the pads of the guard to blast them into the backfield. He is a force on run downs and also can generate a good bull rush at times.
In the 2011 season, Thompson recorded 46 tackles with 7.5 tackles for a loss, 2.5 sacks and a forced fumble. Clemson removed him from the game in some pass-rushing situations. However, he had a strong performance at the Senior Bowl, and was a disruptive force on the South’s defensive line. He performed well in the one-on-one matchups, and looked better as a pass-rusher there than he did during his senior season.
While some draft pundits have rated Thompson as a first-round pick, he looks like a second-round pick because of his limited pass rushing. Even though Thompson does not get a lot of sacks, his ability to occupy blockers was a huge aide in Da’Quan Bowers recording 15.5 sacks in 2010 and Andre Branch totaling 10.5 sacks in 2011.
Thompson has the strength and power to play up front in the 3-4. That may not be his best fit and it will take some time for him to learn that position. However, should be able to hold the edge and occupy blockers to aide outside linebackers. He may be best in a 4-3 defense as a nose tackle, however. He would be a good run-stuffer who can help occupy blockers to help the edge rushers, but he should not be expected to be a pass-rushing defensive tackle.
Player Comparison: Aubrayo Franklin. Thompson will get drafted a lot higher than Franklin, who was a fifth-round pick of Baltimore in 2003. Their games are similar where they create disruption at the line of scrimmage but are not linemen that produce big sack totals. Franklin (6-1, 317) has a total of only four sacks in his nine-year career. Still, Franklin has had a good career including a productive run with the 49ers. Thompson is a similar build to Franklin, and they both have a combination of power with quickness.
NFL Matches: St. Louis, Minnesota, Carolina, Cincinnati, Denver, New Orleans Saints, New York Giants
There are a ton of teams that could consider Thompson in the second round. Early on Friday night, the Rams and Vikings both could use a tackle like Thompson who can free up their dangerous edge-rushers and stuff the run. Even though the Panthers took some tackles last year, they could use more help, and Thompson could be a quality second-round pick for them. Cincinnati may need to fortify its defensive tackles depending on what happens in free agency.
The Broncos have a need at defensive tackle, and Thompson would be a good fit in their defense. The Saints may have to replace Franklin and Shaun Rogers this offseason. The Giants also could use some youth on the inside of their defensive line.
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