With desirable options going off the board pick by pick in round three, Green Bay Packers General Manager Ted Thompson had his representative at Radio City Music Hall write down a slightly surprising name with the 85th pick in the 2014 NFL Draft: defensive tackle Khyri Thornton from Southern Mississippi.
Thornton, who measures in at 6'3" and 304 pounds, played a number of interior positions on the line for the Golden Eagles. Based on his size, one might think that the 3-technique end position might be his ideal spot in the Packers' 3-4 defense, but there is some thought that Thornton could add some bulk to his frame and slide inside to nose tackle. Bolts From the Blue, the SB Nation blog for the San Diego Chargers, suggested just that in a scouting report on Thornton this spring.
Thornton put up 28 reps on the bench press and a 5.04-second 40-yard dash at the Scouting Combine, showing very solid strength and speed for a 300-pound man. He also is noted for having excellent explosiveness and consistently being one of the first players off the ball.
Our own Jason Hirschhorn was in attendance at the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl, where Thornton stood out. Here's an excerpt from Jason's recap of the game:
Southern Mississippi defensive tackle Khyri Thornton frequently took up multiple blockers, displaying the fast hands and athleticism to pressure the quarterback. On the one occasion that the American team allocated just a single linemen to block Thornton, he burst through for a sack.
That's a good sign for a Packers team that would love to get more pressure on the quarterback from the interior defensive line to supplement their outside linebackers. Look for Mike Daniels to be a possible mentor for Thornton moving forward.