With their third-round pick (85th overall) in the 2014 NFL draft, the Green Bay Packers select Khyri Thornton, DT, Southern Mississippi
Khyri Thornton, DT, Southern Mississippi 6’3″, 304 lbs
Played all 13 games in 2010 and recorded 17 tackles, five tackles for loss and 2.5 sacks. . .In 2011, he appeared in 14 games, starting seven at defensive tackle, and tallied 24 tackles, nine tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks with one pass batted and one forced fumble. . .Was Southern Miss primary defensive tackle in 2012, playing in 12 games (11 starts) and totaling 36 tackles, 9.5 tackles for loss and one sack with one pass batted, one interception and one forced fumble. . .Team captain.
5.03 40 yard dash, 28 reps on the bench, 29-inch vertical, 9 foot, 4-inch broad jump
He has a strong upper body and does not carry much excess weight on his frame. Thornton shows good burst and overall athletic ability when not forced to open his hips. His motor is decent but his overall stamina is not great. He has some room to improve in terms of his functional strength, but his potential is intriguing between his ability to keep adding strength to his lower body and just taking advantage of all of his physical tools. Has short arms and small hands. Could do a better job working off blocks, creating separation and protecting his legs. Tends to wear down and tire late in games and effort wanes. Needs to develop more pass-rush moves — stays blocked too long. Relies too much on his upper-body strength. Can be late to locate the ball and needs to do a better job of feeling blocking pressure and anticipating. Misses a lot of tackles. Minimal sack production.
The Packers love the big guys and they certainly got one here in Thornton. He’s long at 6’3″ and carries just over 300 pounds. Those stories about the Packers wanting to get smaller and faster up front won’t gain any traction with this pick.
What Thornton does give them is another long body on the edge up front who will likely rotate in at the defensive end (five-technique) and, depending on his development, could be groomed for the elephant role that the Packers signed veteran Julius Peppers to man.
Thornton’s upside had to have intrigued the Packers for them to make him their third pick in this draft. His high character undoubtedly stood out to them as well. He’s another one of those high-potential players the Packers tend to gravitate towards. Green Bay has some work to do with Thornton, but his work ethic indicates that he can be groomed. Measurables are a good fit for what the Packers like up front on their defense.
Jason Perone is an independent sports blogger writing about the Packers on AllGreenBayPackers.comFollow Jason Perone: