2011 Texas commit Kendall Thompson (photo by Wescott Eberts).
Name: Kendall Thompson
40 Time: 4.7 seconds
High School: Carthage
Rivals Rating: 4*, 5.8
Thompson is a big strong athletic player capable of making plays all over the field. Has the size for the outside linebacker position at the major level of competition; also plays tight end and has natural hands. Shows very good flexibility, agility and balance vs. both the run and pass; is quick to K&D against the run; displays good upper body playing strength and is a very good downhill player. Can come up and take on blockers while also demonstrating the ability to beat blockers to the ball with quickness while avoiding blocks. Has the ability to keep his legs free and moves through traffic well. Not only is this prospect a very good front side player but shows the patience to maintain leverage against the cutback run. We see a smart instinctive guy who doesn't get fooled by misdirection plays. Shows very good toughness and can stack the inside run in short yardage situations. Is very productive against the pass; possesses the athleticism to get good depth in zone coverage; displays good route awareness with the ability to read the QB's eyes, getting a good break on the ball. Shows very good ball skills; has quite a few INT's and PBU's to his credit. His mobility is evident as a late off the edge rusher or mirroring the QB if containment breaks down. We like his tackling skill; can come to balance and will punish when given the opportunity; early playing time on special teams can't be ruled out. Thompson has all the qualities necessary to be a very productive player early in his career. Stepping on the field as an immediate starter is not out of the question; more likely early playing time is a distinct possibility.
As you can see from the instant analysis above, there's a lot to like about Thompson's game and really not that many weaknesses at all. As I wrote earlier in my Army All American Game preview, Kendall is one of my favorite players on film in the entire class and I think he's the most underrated commitment we have, as well as being one of the most talented.
Thompson is an extremely versatile player who could legitimately play any LB spot in either a 4-3 or a 3-4 and also put his hand on the ground as an edge rusher in a 4-3, a la Dravannti Johnson or Sergio Kindle. This is the kind of hybrid prototype that Muschamp loved and Diaz will salivate over.
Thompson has good speed for a LB, but even more impressive are his agility, athleticism, and suddenness. He's a violent and solid wrap-up tackler who can come down hill in a hurry and destroy a ball carrier in the backfield or string a play out to the sidelines and prevent a RB/WR from turning the corner. If I were a high school football player, I would not want to see Kendall with a straight shot at me.
With all the talk about how athletic and agile Kendall is, it's natural to assume he's unrefined in pass coverage. But this simply isn't so. Thompson has a lot of experience dropping into zone in Carthage's system and shows excellent coverage awareness and ball skills for a linebacker when the need arises. He's also quick to stop RAC yardage and does a good job of keeping receivers in front of him when he's in coverage.
The guy is long, lanky, built well, and has a great frame to play linebacker at the next two levels.
There aren't many, really, that I can discern. It's hard to envision a player with the skill set listed above not being a universal top 100 player, but Kendall is the exception.
The step up in competition from Texas 3A football to FBS will be big, but 3A in the Lone Star State is still better than the top division in a large amount of states in the country.
I've seen mention of Thompson looking good on film, but not affecting the game with regularity. Yet from following stats week after week it always looked to me like Kendall was pretty involved in the action.
If he does indeed want to play some edge rush in college, he'll need to get stronger, fill out more, and improve his pass rush move set against offensive linemen.
Target Body Type
At a huge 230+ right now for a high school linebacker who isn't really that filled out, Thompson has the ability to carry 250 once he gets into S&C coach Bennie Wiley's program—even more if he ends up playing a hybrid LB/DE role. Think of those monster Alabama LBs that always look like they were made in a factory somewhere in secluded Tuscaloosa. Kendall escaped from the factory and came home to Texas.
I guess I'm of the opinion that when it's this astoundingly hard to find something wrong with a guy's game and he has ideal height, athleticism, frame, and speed, it doesn't really make a whole lot of sense for him to not be ranked higher. Kendall will likely come in a contribute as a true freshman somewhere, even if it's only on special teams. I think he projects as an OLB at Texas, but will probably play various positions within the multiple defense that Diaz will likely employ. Expect him to be one of those guys that commentators love to say "causes havoc" throughout the entire game and is "lined up all over the field." Great player and a fantastic talent that can be a game changer on defense and special teams.
Shaun Phillips, San Diego Chargers