Over the last week, the CU Independent’s Jack Stern has been looking at the upcoming NFL Combine on Feb. 28. Four Colorado Buffaloes earned invitations to participate in the event.
In this installment of Buffs Spotlight: at the NFL Combine, Stern identifies potential landing spots for the Buffaloes’ former standout free safety, Tedric Thompson.
Cleveland Browns: It’s no secret that the Cleveland Browns’ secondary needs help. The Browns ranked 20th in pass defense, and had no consistency at any of the secondary positions this past season.
The Browns’ coaching staff and management will also have to take into account that as of now, Jordan Pryor and Ed Reynolds, both of whom struggled at the position last year, are set to split reps at free safety in 2017.
In a division where over-the-top help is crucial, with deadly wideouts such as A.J. Green and Antonio Brown, the Browns have to be looking to make an improvement at the position. While the free agency class at free safety features Eric Berry and Barry Church, the Browns will likely want to allocate the majority of their offseason funds on improving their offensive line and locking up several franchise players, most notably wide receiver Terrelle Pryor.
Bottom Line: I could very well see this happening. Thompson’s ability to gain quick reads off the quarterback’s eyes will serve him very well in the NFL, and could make him a late round steal.
If the Browns pick up Thompson anywhere between the 3rd and 5th rounds, they will have likely addressed other pressing needs at quarterback, cornerback and tight end. They could use him as a compliment to Joe Haden and whoever else they pick up at cornerback. Although he doesn’t have the same takeaway abilities as LSU’s Jamal Adams, or Ohio State’s Malik Hooker, he is a fast, physical, player who can easily make game-changing plays.
Overall, I think this would be a great pickup, especially following the hiring of defensive coordinator Gregg Williams.
The Buffalo Bills: Like many of the other teams I have profiled thus far, the Bills’ defense looked less-than-impressive this season. If you don’t believe me, look at their 30-10 thumping by the lowly Jets to end the regular season – a game which they gave up 210 yards through the air and 338 yards of total offense.
This, with the fact they are in danger of losing cornerback Stephon Gilmore to free agency this offseason, leads me to believe the folks in Western New York are looking to re-boot their secondary. Corey Graham isn’t a franchise free safety by any means, and they’re going to need to get more of a mainstay at the position if they want to win games in the near future.
Bottom Line: This outcome is likely. Thompson would be a great fit here; he is great at going up and contending with physical receivers on jump balls and is a dual-threat safety who can help with the run. Most importantly, Thompson always makes sure to keep the receiver in front of him to prevent big plays; something the Bills secondary struggled mightily to do last season.
Combined with the fact that the Bills hired a defensive-minded coach in Sean McDermott, who loves Thompson’s physical style of play, I could definitely see this happening. Waiting until later in the draft to make this selection would also let the Bills address other potential needs at quarterback, offensive line and wide receiver.
The New York Jets: At this stage in the game, the Jets must be yearning for who someone that can just go out and play a solid 60 minutes of football. Between the locker room headaches involving defensive end Sheldon Richardson and wide receiver Brandon Marshall, and the recent Darrelle Revis revelations, this is something that has been hard to come by.
Since Revis may very well be out the door with no consistency in the secondary, this is a move that could definitely make sense.
Bottom Line: This is possible. From my viewpoint, this would be as safe a pick as it gets. If the Jets are able to gain an impact corner in one of the first two rounds, this could be the ideal player to give them additional help in their secondary.
While having a group of inexperienced rookies manning the secondary may not sound attractive to Jets fans, this is a particularly strong draft class as far as secondary is concerned. Furthermore, Thompson would serve as the physical player in both the run and pass game that the Jets need. The Jets need someone who can go out on the field and provide consistency, and with Thompson they’d get just that.
However, although I see him fitting in with the Jets, I don’t find it likely that their front office will be able to effectively prioritize their long list of needs and take the best man to fit their scheme. Over the years, they have shown an inability to do so. If any Jets fans need a friendly reminder of this, just remember that they took Christian Hackenberg over Dak Prescott in last year’s draft. Or you can think about the fact that they drafted the guy who was supposed to be the franchise free safety in Calvin Pryor in 2014, and yet now we’re back talking about how they can improve the position already.
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