Spring Performance -- Thompson flew under the radar this spring but quickly embraced his new role in the Rutgers scheme. Thompson moved to the "R" position, where he excelled in spring against the run. Thompson showed improved athleticism, carried himself like a senior and stayed healthy in the process.
Expected 2013 Role -- Thompson is a starter at the "R" position and a potential team captain in 2013. Elevating his game under defensive line coach Jim Panagos, Thompson's role as a senior will be in the hybrid pass-rush spot vacated by Ka'lial Glaud. Look for Thompson to occasionally be used in coverage and be one of the top pass rushers off the edge. Thompson has just one sack to his name in the last two seasons and is in a role where that number needs to rise significantly as a senior.
Scouting Report -- Thompson is a prime example of what four years in a college strength and conditioning program can do for someone. Coming to Rutgers as a bulky linebacker, Thompson bounced around positions until he found his home at defense end. Thompson grew to 260 pounds but lost none of his speed.
In the run game, Thompson sheds quickly at the line of scrimmage and uses good foot speed to close. Thompson improved his violence with his hands after Panagos took over the defensive line and his burst off the snap is improved since he initially moved to the defensive line.
Thompson needs to improve as a pure pass rusher. He put together an efficient junior season but has yet to show he can consistently get to the quarterback.
The Bottom Line -- Thompson needs to have a big senior season. More than settled into his role as a defensive lineman, there are few ends in the American Athletic Conference that move as well as Thompson.