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OPC's Third Day Prospects - Kyrhi Thornton

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I'm a little bit behind on this guy and wanted to do a write up on him sooner, but had a little time this very beautiful Sunday evening to write a little snippet on another DL prospect that I think could be a 3rd day gem.  He has recently raised up on some websites prospect rankings to around a 5-6 round prospect. 


I think he’s a fit in our 3-4 as a DT/DE.  He’s got experience playing all along the interior as a DT from a 3 tech to a 0 tech.  He’s got decent upper body strength and is above average in his explosiveness.  Draft Breakdown has a few videos on him but I chose the Arkansas video where he’s lining up across from Travis Swanson a majority of the time.  http://draftbreakdown.com/video/khyri-thornton-vs-arkansas-2013/


0:08 – He doesn’t always show great use of hands (more on that later), but here’s what it looks like when he does.  He gets push while keeping separation to set up a swim or rip move until the pocket starts to collapse.  He opted to continue the bull rush, which is okay I guess, but I think it has more to do with his limited repertoire in pass rush moves, which I’d like to see him utilize a larger arsenal of tools.  A coachable aspect.


2:12 – Awareness is a huge issue with Kyrhi.  I typically shy away from players with awareness issues, especially redshirted freshmen, but it’s a little more forgivable for a 5th round prospect with the physical traits to become a starter.  Here, and on several other plays, it seems as if he just pushes upfield as hard and as far as he can when he doesn’t know what else to do.  To me, it has less to do with his play recognition and more to do with one of two things.  The first is he rushes upfield to hard and fast that he takes himself out of the play, like he does here.  The second reason, see 4:29 below.


2:47 – Earlier, I criticized Kyrhi’s arsenal of rush moves, but here’s a nice example of a swim move that he didn’t use often enough.  Propelled himself right ot the ball carrier.  Could have finished the tackle, but caused enough disruption that it was still a positive play.


3:17 – This looks like a bad play by Kyrhi, but this is actually a positive play or him.  The reason it went wrong was because of the missed assignment by the OLB, who misdiagnosed then ran himself out of the play instead of attacking the giant hole where the RB was.  This is the best case you can make for Kyrhi as a NT/DE in our defense.  He is able to take on double teams and maintain his ground at the LOS.  He loses some from time to time like any other NT, but more often than not, he is frees up the LBs to make the play, the OLB in this case just didn’t do that.  So while I seem to talk more about his weaknesses, don’t mistake that to mean that his weaknesses show on the field far more than his positives.  If you watch the entire film, you’ll see him take on many many double teams, and 9 out of 10 times, he’ll hold his ground or slip between the man coerage and get into the back field. 


4:29 – The second reason is because he turns his back to the ball carrier.  And he does this so often it’s maddening.  As a potential DT/DE I na 3-4, this is something that you just don’t do except in very limited situations (i.e. to get off a block to chase down a scrambling QB or a RB who makes an unexpected cutback).  This was a primary contributor in his lack of production, which should have been so much higher given the fact that he often lived in opponents backfields. 


6:35 – It’s really impossible to tell how this play started out, but I’m fairly positive that Arkansas ran an off-tackle with zone blocking.  Kyhri reads it right off the snap and beats the OG Smothers off the ball (how he won this battle, I’m not sure).  And while part of the criticism on him is that he tires out later in the games, I still like his high motor to chase down the RB from behind.  Perhaps he could use a little more conditioning, but if he were a rotational guy, this would be less of an issue (though that’s not to say it can be ignored by any means – it shouldn’t).


6:43 – Another criticism, stemming from the very first comment I made about 0:08 above.  He doesn’t always get good use out of his hands.  And while he flashes the potential, this is what he looks like more often – allowing himself to get in tight to the opponents body and allowing himself to get held.  I like his pop, push, and drive, but he’ll need to get better at disengaging, which, as I’ve stated before, he ahs shown that he has the potential to get better at, especially if he improves his pad level for better leverage and uses his hands and arms more purpose.

8:06 – I love this play.  He essentially takes on 3 blockers to free up other guys.  Another good example of how he can take up a lot of blockers to free up other guys and help blow up a play.  PS.  This was a stop, so I don’t know how Arkansas ended up with a first down, perhaps a dead ball foul.


Bottom Line – A strong player who will be a developmental project that I really like in the 6th round.  Perhaps he goes in the 5th, which I am not sure I would expend a 5th round on him, but I wouldn’t be disappointed with the pick.  There’s other 5th round DTs I’d prefer, but if we’re looking for an interior DL in the 6th and he’s available, he would be a solid choice.


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Good find, I think he has to bulk up his lower body, Excellent breakdowns, Needs to get stronger in his lower body I think

I think his leg strength would "improve" simply by keeping a lower center of gravity and not playing too high so often.  But physically building more strength by hitting the weight room certainly couldn't hurt.

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