2021 NFL Draft Scouting Report: Ambry Thomasby Charlie Parent April 22, 2021 0 comments
If an NFL team is needing a corner come day three, Ambry Thomas could be the guy to select. He has the prototypical NFL length and it has shown on the field. He is one of the most experienced man-coverage corners in this draft class, as that was pretty much all he played in Michigan’s defense. Thomas currently holds some day-three projections but could make some noise in day two if corners go early and often.
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Name: Ambry Thomas
Weight: 190 lbs
Man Coverage (8.5/10)
Former Michigan Defensive Coordinator Don Brown implores man coverage in his systems. There are very few downs where Thomas was not swung out on an island and put in one-on-on coverage. He has excellent hand usage and gets very physical at the line of scrimmage.
He can be a little grabby, which has led to some flags, but it is not as bad as past Michigan prospects coming out like Jourdan Lewis or David Long. Thomas has shown some inconsistencies in press coverage where he fails to make contact and gets beat. He needs to work on turning his head when the ball is in the air a bit more. This was something that was shown on display in his 2019 tape, as well as, the senior bowl. Overall, man coverage is his best trait and he can be pretty sticky in all areas of the field.
Zone Coverage (7.25/10)
Thomas gets a lot of points off here because he’s really untested in zone coverage. As mentioned, the Michigan defense rarely incorporated zone into their play. When they did, Thomas did pretty well, but nothing spectacular. His length can disrupt throwing windows pretty nicely. He’s been used in a lot of cloud situations and if the ball is thrown to the check-down on his side, he’s quick to attack the ball carrier.
Thomas is pretty iffy here. He can be a little clunky when flipping his hips, which can allow him to get burnt deep. He can make very good plays on the ball by adjusting his body and going up for a deflection. Overall, too many inconsistencies in his hip fluidity to get a great score here but he’s shown nice flashes.
Ball Skills (8.5/10)
Thomas has a very high upside with his ball skills. In 2019, he got his hands on six balls totaling three interceptions and three deflections. This might not be the highest number, but he can really go up and make a play on the ball. He demonstrates a really high jumping ability. As mentioned, the issue of turning his head can be a bit of a big one. Almost all Michigan defensive backs in the past few years have struggled to turn their heads in time, which results in making a play on the football late. If Thomas can learn better timing with locating the ball, he’ll have great ball skills in the NFL.
Thomas is a very good athlete by measurements, and the measurements he gave at his pro day show up on film. There’s zero denying this guy’s speed. He ran a 4.37 40 yard dash and this is something that’s showed up all over the film. He certified his excellent leaping ability with a 38-inch vertical jump and a 10’2″ broad jump. Thomas brings some exciting athleticism to whichever team selects him.
Run Support (7.5/10)
Thomas has been pretty solid in run defense across his career. He’s always in the play when the ball carrier comes to his side of the field and he’s not afraid to make a play on the back. He does not really fall victim to throwing his body with no regard, but he can just be a little slow to recognize the play as it develops
Thomas is a very good tackler. He demonstrates excellent closing speed and rarely misses, or whiffs. He’s good at wrapping guys up but at times can get a bit outmuscled due to his lean frame. Tackling shouldn’t be an issue for Thomas in the NFL, especially if he bulks up a tad.
Not the best trait for Thomas here. If he gets initially, it’s hard for him to drop back and recover. Not really an effort issue as he tries to get back, but just can’t really make a play on the ball. There have been some good instances when he can in fact recover without safety help but for the most part, this is an area that needs to improve.
Thomas can be a very versatile player in the NFL. He can work in the slot and outside. He’s comfortable on an island, and he’s gotten reps in the return game. A concern would be the low dosage of zone coverage he’s played, definitely needs to be put in a man scheme. He was very good in the return game as well, although his reps diminished as his career progressed and he got moved up to starting corner.
Competitive Toughness (4.25/5)
Thomas is a very physical player who is not afraid to back down. As a guy who played around the 175-180 weight due to colitis in 2019, he fared very well against bigger and stronger receivers. He’s very willing to do the dirty work that some corners don’t love doing. He can jaw at his receiver at times but mostly stays conservative.
Thomas was sidelined at Michigan for quite a while with colitis. The concern with this is that he had some serious weight loss, but that concern has been thwarted for the most part as he weighed in at 190 lbs for his pro day.
Thomas is a sort of jack of all trades type corner. He does everything good, not great. He’s a bit better than what his current stock is saying about him but could see a bit of a fall due to his scheme fit. He’s got some pretty raw potential and could eventually develop into a solid starting corner in the league. As for a projection, it’s flying all over between third and sixth rounds. It will be very interesting to see when Thomas’s name is called.
Player Grade (78.5/100): Early-third round