Corey Thompson from LSU is a guy who flashed on film while I was watching his teammate CB Donte Jackson. He is a 6th-year senior whose career has been marred by injuries. While in Baton Rouge, he was redshirted two separate times, once in 2014 (knee injury) and once in 2016. But when healthy, he has been a jack-of-all-trades kind of player. He’s played in the secondary and as an edge player in LSU’s odd front. 2017 was his most productive season, racking up 43 total tackles, 7 for loss, and 6 sacks. That includes a total of 22 pressures and a 12.2 pass rush productivity rating.
He is projected as a late round or undrafted prospect, but is a developmental player and special teams contributor. Let’s take a look at some of his film.
Quick recognition of the gap run, leads with his hands, disengages and makes the tackle.
Above average first step, flashes his inside hand to bait the tackle into showing his hands. The tackle doesn’t bite, so he dips to shrink the blocking surface area then rips through the block. BYU has a screen called, so the QB throws it away.
Thompson is on the ball as a 3-4 outside linebacker, but after the motion, he shifts off the ball. As the ball is snapped, the receivers switch release and Thompson matches the vertical route. Shows his mental processing and athleticism.
Even though Thompson played outside linebacker in their odd front, given his 6’2″228-pound frame, he isn’t 3-4 outside linebacker material in the NFL. His skills are fit for a role as a Sam linebacker role, or outside linebacker altogether. He uses his hands well.
Aligned in the slot, Thompson’s feet are buzzing as he reads run-to-pass then closes and makes a forceful tackle with an outside-in angle of pursuit.
Similar role to Nwosu. Aligned in a 6t. Is he in man coverage, zone or rushing? pic.twitter.com/yRQLU3VG5g
— Cover 1 (@Cover1) April 17, 2018
Something that seems like a theme with a bunch of these edge rushers in this class — they have a good understanding of when the rush isn’t going to work, so they let up and attempt to go for the batted pass.
As an on-the-ball Sam linebacker, Thompson must be able to disrupt tight ends’ releases. Jamming then rushing is a regular occurrence. He does a decent job of that here but loses sight of the QB.
Guys like Thompson allow defensive coordinators to disguise their play calls. It is very difficult to know if he is going to rush or drop. When he drops, his backpedal is short and choppy, but he does continue to gain depth to take away the in route.
Loves the dip and rip. His bend for an outside linebacker is slightly above average.
Thompson doesn’t just stack; he shows off some of his power here.
Not much of a pass rush plan on the following play. He also false steps with his left foot, shows average athleticism, but you can see some of the bend and strength he has in his lower body.
Awesome to see Thompson helping set the defense prior to the snap. Post-snap, he is the looper and is able to bring the QB down.
On this play, Thompson is 1-on-1 with the tight end. He immediately gets on the hip of the player, but at the top of the route, he lets the tight end dictate. The tight end pushes off and separates, but the ball goes elsewhere.
Thompson displays very good pad level and hand placement on what he thinks is a run coming his way. But the tight end releases and Thompson expects to make an easy tackle, but the back doesn’t have the ball. All the while, the tight end is open; fortunately, the QB couldn’t throw it.
On 3rd-and-long, you see Thompson aligned in a 6t, head up over the tight end. LSU is in an even front with their edge rushers in two-point stances and their inside linebackers showing double A-gap blitzes. So it appears that they are bringing pressure, but is Thompson rushing or covering the TE? On the snap, he jams the tight end and rushes the passer. He is unaccounted for and registers the sack.
It is pretty clear that Thompson is not a guy that will be able to play in the box, on the line of scrimmage. The tackle absolutely manhandles him. He just doesn’t have the play strength to match tackles. This is why he should be off the ball, and on the ball only matched up vs. TEs.
On this play, Thompson starts in the slot but then creeps down to the weak side of the formation, and on the snap, he is unaccounted for, so he quickly chases the running back down. He can make a lot of plays as a fringe box/slot player.
Thompson had his ups and downs this game against NFL caliber talent. Here, he blitzes late and tries to bluff the tackle. By flashing his hand he is hoping the tackle brings his hands up to punch, where then Thompson typically dips and rips under and by the offensive player. But this tackle is keen to the move and he quickly executes a snatch-trap.
Thompson is more than likely an undrafted free agent, but he is what coaches are looking for at linebacker in today’s schemes. He has elements of versatility that can cater to defensive coordinators who run hybrid-like schemes as a guy who can play in space or in the box. On the ball or off the ball, as a run stopper or as a pass rusher.