Thomas Incoom’s journey to the Mile High City is one worth mentioning. And if all goes well, it will be one Broncos Country remembers for years to come.
Born and raised in Ghana, it wasn’t until he and his family moved to the United States before he ever entertained the thought of playing football.
His first passion in the sports world was soccer. The world’s most popular game. With that in mind, it’s no surprise that his football endeavors started off at the kicker position. Makes sense, right?
But by the end of his high school football career, he had moved to tight end. And even though he had only played three years of organized football, his play was sufficient enough to be recruited by Valdosta State—a local Division II program in Georgia with a winning tradition.
Except they didn’t envision him as a tight end. They wanted him to be a defensive end and get after the quarterback. Challenge accepted.
He was a redshirt player for the Blazers in 2017 and a part-time player during their 2018 championship season. But in 2019, things started to click—he was getting the hang of football. He earned a starting role for the defending DII champions and racked up 9.5 sacks and 12.5 tackles for loss. In addition to getting after the quarterback, he showed a penchant for forcing fumbles [four of them] and causing turnovers.
Incoom’s steady rise turned the tides in his favor. Larger programs looking for a dynamic defender to add to their ranks took notice. They knew his best football was yet to come. Like many fellow athletes, he opted to hit the transfer portal in 2020 and set his sights on something bigger than Valdosta State.
Several FCS and FBS schools showed interest, but he took a leap of faith and trekked 1,000 miles north to Mount Pleasant, Michigan to play for the Central Michigan Chippewas—the first FBS team to give him a call.
He was a part-time player in his first year, but became a full-fledged starter in his final season. Overall, he appeared in 24 games and registered 47 tackles, 27.5 of them for loss, as well as 15.5 sacks. His top-tier senior year with 11.5 sacks earned him first-team All-MAC selection. It also caught the eyes of NFL talent evaluators and he was offered a spot to participate in the Reese’s Senior Bowl.
Against his peers, all of them with much more football experience, he struggled to hit his stride or make a big impression on scouts and NFL personnel in attendance. But he still showed some flashes in one-on-one drills with his wide range of pass rushing moves and quick get-off from the line of scrimmage.
During the pre-draft workout circuit, he posted good athletic numbers and had a great RAS score. Numbers that were on par with some of the higher profile prospects at EDGE in the 2023 NFL Draft. The consensus by most analysts is that he would be a mid-to-late round selection. Alas, he didn’t hear his name called during the draft, but quickly got a call from the Denver Broncos who signed him to an undrafted free agent deal.
Many moons ago, the Broncos’ scouting staff struck gold getting Shaquil Barrett in 2014 as an UDFA from Colorado State. It took him a while to hit his stride, but there is no denying he has went on to endure great success in this league.
Comparatively their size is similar, but Incoom’s twitch off the line and overall athleticism is quite a bit better. Like Barrett, he is a high motor and high effort player. But one key difference was Barrett’s stronger play at the point of attack versus the run. That’s something Incoom is going to have to get much better at as he gets his first taste of life in the National Football League.
All things considered, he is unlikely to legitimately challenge for a final spot on this year’s 53-man roster. It’s important to reinforce that in every step of his football journey he has consistently improved. That’s the sort of dedication and talent worth betting on. Especially when you consider he has roughly only eight years of football experience to date.
That being said, he merits consideration as a practice squad candidate with the ability to become a part-time pass rush specialist and core special teams player down the road. But who knows—maybe he will impress just like he has everywhere else—and secure one of the final remaining EDGE spots on the roster.
We’ll just have to wait and see.