The Denver Broncos second selection in the 2012 NFL Draft will be the 57th overall pick. There are some here at Mile High Report (like me) who would like our team to pick up two Defensive Tackles this week. With that in mind, I’d like to take a little time to solicit one of those inside linemen who could very well be on the board when Denver is on the clock. His name is Brandon Thompson.
Brandon Thompson, born Oct. 19, 1989 (age 22), is a 6-2, 314 lb. three year letterman out of Clemson University. Graduating with a degree in Management, Thompson is the 7th ranked DT in the Nation and the 51st ranked prospect according to NFL Draft Scout. He is expected to be drafted in the 2nd round.
Nicknamed "Yams" because of his big thighs that help him plug the middle of the Tiger defense, Thompson does a great job as a run stopper in the middle of the line. He can bench press (450) and put up 36 reps at 225-pounds, He squat lifts 615 lbs, and power cleans 370 lbs.
Thompson was a 2nd-team All-ACC selection in 2011 after posting 77 Tackles, eight Tackles For a Loss, 2.5 Sacks and a team-tying-high 18 Quarterback pressures. He had a season-high nine stops against Georgia Tech this year and finished fourth on the team in tackles. The Thomasville, GA, native notched 208 Tackles, 22.5 Tackles For Loss, 4.5 Sacks, 47 Quarterback hurries, nine Pass Breakups, two Forced Fumbles and three Recovered Fumbles in 38 career starts.
Had 56 Tackles, 7.5 Tackles For Loss, a Sack, 15 Quarterback pressures, and three Pass Breakups in 532 snaps over 13 games (11 starts). Thompson had a strong second half of the season, making 43 of his 56 Tackles in the last seven games.
A 13 game starter on the Defensive Line in 2009, Brandon was a big reason the Tigers finished in the top 25 nationally in total defense and scoring defense. He finished with 50 Tackles and had at least two Tackles in 13 of the 14 games.
A 1st-year freshman Defensive Tackle who was slated to be red-shirted, Brandon spent the Alabama game on the sideline, then had the red-shirt taken off after Jamie Cumbie was injured and lost for the season during the game. He played each of the last 12 games, making 25 Tackles, 4th-most on the team among freshmen and 3rd on the team in Tackles among interior Defensive Linemen/ Thompson had five Tackles For Loss … had 3 tackles for loss, his first career sack, 3 Pass Breakups, 2 Quarterback hurries, 1 Forced Fumble and his first career takeaway (recovered fumble).
Sports Illustrated has this to say about Thompson
Biography: Three-year starter awarded all-conference honors as a senior with totals of 46 tackles/7.5 tackles for loss/2.5 sacks. Junior numbers included 56/7.5/1. Posted 50 tackles as a sophomore.
Positives: Explosive interior lineman who plays hard until the whistle blows. Fires through the gaps of the offensive line, displays terrific all-around quickness and keeps his feet driving up the field. Flashes power and constantly penetrates the line of scrimmage to disrupt the action. Works his hands throughout the play and chases hard to get to the action.
Negatives: Marginal pass rusher. Gets easily out-positioned from the action at times. Must improve his leverage and consistently play with good pad level.
Analysis: From the time he was a sophomore Thompson showed next-level skills and has developed his game each season. He's a penetrating tackle who?s best on a four-man line and in a one-gap system. He does the little things well and offers starting potential at the next level.
Arm Length: 33.5
Hand Size: 10
40 Time: DNP
Bench Press: 35 Reps
Vertical Jump: 31"
Broad Jump: 8-4
3 Cone Drill: 7.97
20 Yard Shuttle: 4.71
Pro Day results
40 Yard Time: 5.20
20 Yard Time: 2.85
10 Yard Time: 1.77
Thompson brings value to the NFL in that he can play both defensive tackle or nose tackle at the NFL level. With his size and athletic ability, Thompson has been disruptive for Clemson. He plays stout against the run and will plug the hole well for an NFL team. He is able to find the ball as a defender and is effective after the snap in making plays in the backfield. He doesn't bring a ton of pass-rush ability, but he will be able to serve as a strong presence up front. He has the talent to warrant a late first or early second-round pick.
STRENGTHS: Thompson is an incredible run defender inside. He is consistent in his play and uses his feet to make plays happen against the run. He comes off the ball quickly and is able to fill gaps well at his size. He also make plays on the ball carrier. He is a very strong player who knows how to use his hands and disrupt plays in the backfield.
WEAKNESSES: Thompson tends to be negated by double teams inside. His substandard technique can limit him at times and contributes to his inability to get past those doubles. Though he is stellar against the run, he is limited against the pass, only occasionally making things happen as a rusher.
CBSSports.com’s take on Thompson
Thompson was a classroom and weight-room fanatic since high school, which earned him Academic Honor Roll recognition in 2010 and the weight-lifting statistics of a tractor -- 450-pound single bench press, 36 reps with 225 pounds (34 at the Combine), 615-pound squat lift and 370-pound power clean.
On the field that translates to somebody smart enough to know what to do and strong enough to get it done. He explodes off the line with tremendous force and uses his wicked strong hands to gain an advantage. This helps him as a dangerous bull rusher, but he is not really a pass rush threat. Thompson is an immovable object willing and able to crush anything that tries to get past him. His college statistics may not be relevant because offenses tried to stay out of his way, even if it took two men to do so. Thompson may be NFL ready right now, but he is already maximizing his physical ability and may have marginal upside.
Pass rush: Arguably his best skill due to an extraordinary burst off the snap. Explodes out of his stance, demonstrating a burst upfield to slip gaps and the lateral agility once past the line of scrimmage to chase down the quarterback. Inconsistent use of hands. Flashes quick hands to slap away blocks, but too often gets caught in the hand-fighting at the line of scrimmage rather than quickly disengaging. Uses a swim move occasionally, though is only marginally effective with it. May be limited with this technique due to short arms. Good upper-body strength and leg drive for the bull rush.
Run defense: Penetrates through gaps, often forcing running backs to elude him or the back end of the offensive lineman he's pushing before they even reach the line of scrimmage. Inconsistent in his ability to separate from blocks, however, making him more of a nuisance than a snap-to-snap terror. Good anchor to hold up at the point, though he does not possess the bulk or lower-body strength to hold up to double teams. Good effort pursuing laterally. Quick feet and good balance to slide down the line and possesses the burst to slip through gaps.
Explosion: Pops off tape due to his explosive first few steps. While powerful, doesn't rock the guard/center back with his upper-body strength or explode into tackles.
Strength: Good weight-room strength, which translates onto the field in terms of his anchor. Isn't able to consistently shed blocks and makes plays in the hole. Good strength for the drag-down tackle.
Tackling: Can make the impressive chest-to-chest bear hug tackle in the hole due to his ability to wreak havoc in the backfield. Good strength, though his marginal arm length limits his ability to grab hold of ballcarriers as they run by. Willing to lay out and shows good hand-eye coordination to trip up ballcarriers.
The National Football Post Scouting report for Brandon Thompson
Possesses a thick frame, good girth through the lower half and a naturally powerful looking frame. Can coil up into his stance well, and at times will get a bit arched at the back. For the most part, he keeps his base under him and exhibits an explosive first step off the football. Displays good ball awareness, is routinely one of the first lineman moving off the snap, keeps his pad level down into contact, uncoiling an explosive snap through the hips into contact. Possesses the initial explosion to overwhelm on contact, gains leverage, can get his head under the face mask of opposing blockers and run his legs through contact. Doesn't do a great job extending his arms into contact off the ball, but demonstrates good hand placement when engaged and has the upper body strength to simply overwhelm on contact. Is a linear athlete who will struggle to break down on ball carriers at times, especially when engaged. Looks a bit tight hipped and isn't real sudden when trying to shed blocks vs. the run game. Possesses the power to simply rag doll opposing blockers, but isn't real compact or quick when trying to stack and shed. Nevertheless, he's a bear to move inside, can anchor vs. the double and is tough to move. Works hard in pursuit as well, has a solid motor with good range off his frame for his size when chasing the ball off his frame. However, he'll at times get a bit upright initially off the ball and drop his head into contact, is strong enough to hold the point of attack, but can be sealed from the action with ease.
Is a developing pass rusher. Struggled to keep his pad level down off the ball when trying to shoot gaps. Also, his pad level takes away from his initial burst and power through contact. Exhibits the natural strength to still fight his way through contact, but is a linear athlete who doesn't have any kind of sudden/change of direction move off his initial rush. Can push the pocket on his bull rush, but again isn't real sudden when trying to disengage and work his way toward the quarterback. Doesn't have the dynamic explosive lateral quickness and despite his violent hands (at times), isn't real quick/compact when trying to shed.
Impression: A guy who should be able to come in and be a lineman who can win inside vs. the run game. Looks a bit limited as a pass rusher, but will be able to push the pocket and threaten gaps off the ball. A starting caliber 43 nose inside.
Brandon Thompson possesses a great swim move, but he is also partial to the bulrush. He hits and drives through blockers. When he sees a misdirection play he holds up his block well then shucks it. Good recognition. He is more of a disrupter than a pass rusher, but can make opposing Quarterbacks nervous. Has a very good anchor and is versatile enough to move from Nose to either 4-3 Defensive Tackle if Jack Del Rio sees an Offensive Lineman he wants to pick on.