Defensive back Josh Thompson is one of two Texas Longhorns players with a realistic shot at being selected in the 2022 NFL Draft, projecting it as one of the worst drafts for the still-reeling program since 1937.
Along with kicker Cameron Dicker, Thompson was invited to the NFL Combine this year and ran a 4.40 40-yard dash and then posted a 37.5-inch vertical leap at the Texas Pro Day, as well as a 4.18 pro agility. But although Thompson is included in Bleacher Report’s final NFL Mock Draft, he’s a fringe NFL prospect who is projected as a seventh round pick with the No. 250 overall selection.
A one-time TCU commit, Thompson picked up an offer from former head coach Charlie Strong’s staff after a camp on the Forty Acres in June 2016, picked up his offer a day later, then flipped to Texas three days after that. Thompson stuck in the class after Strong was fired and replaced by Tom Herman, finishing the 2017 cycle as a consensus four-star prospect ranked as the No. 302 player nationally and the No. 35 cornerback, according to the 247Sports Composite rankings.
Thompson went on to appear in 45 games for the Horns, including 22 starts over his five seasons. In 2017, Thompson played in nine games, contributing primarily on special teams with 13 tackles and a pass breakup and showing off some ability as a gunner capable of helping punter Michael Dickson down punts inside the 20-yard line. As a sophomore, Thompson started three early-season games, including one game at nickel back, but wasn’t able to hold onto the job, moving into a reserve role for the other nine games and finishing the season with 22 tackles, two quarterback hurries, and a pass breakup. A broken bone in his foot led to a redshirt season in 2019, limiting Thompson to four games during which he recorded 12 tackles and 1.5 tackles for loss. In 2020, Thompson emerged as a full-time starter for the first time in his career, totaling 28 tackles, three tackles for loss, three pass breakups, two quarterback hurries, and his first career interception. As a redshirt senior in 2021, Thompson started the first nine games before suffering a fractured fibula, recording 34 tackles, one tackle for loss, one fumble recovery, one interception (returned for a touchdown), one quarterback hurry, and two passes broken up.
Because Thompson lacks fluidity and production in coverage, some projections have him moving to safety, where his speed and physicality as a tackler could help him make an NFL roster, bolstered by his special teams skills.
Here’s the evaluation from Bleacher Report:
— Shows to play with good awareness in both the run and pass game. Has very good vision when defending the pass and timing to jump routes.
— Physical player with good aggression in the run game. Reads and reacts quickly to what he sees.
— Takes on blocks well with hands and does a very good job of disengaging to get to the ball. He throws his body around in the run game while not being afraid to get into the mix.
— Heavy-footed runner at times who can struggle with stopping and restarting, along with COD.
— Can be tight around the hips. Trouble with flipping and sinking his hips. Below-average body control at times, leads to him losing balance and struggling to get out of breaks.