Packers 2014 NFL Draft – Third Round Pick: Khyri Thornton, DT, Southern Mississippi All Green Bay Packers All the Time
Khyri Thornton
Khyri Thornton  DL, Southern Mississippi

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 draft profile 


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

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28 thoughts on “Packers 2014 NFL Draft – Third Round Pick: Khyri Thornton, DT, Southern Mississippi

  1. Damn Texans! I thought Nix might fall into our laps in the 3rd. Then we burn a 3rd rounder on a DT considered a 5-6 round guy????? Too bad, things were going so well up to this point! Not saying Nix is a sure thing, but a value pick at this point.

  2. I agree Dan, was waiting for Nix to fall to us in the 3rd. Would have been worth a 3rd rounder to see if he would work out because if he does, I he could be a beast.
    I was excited yesterday, but, today I don’t know what to think. All the players I wanted are picked right before us.

  3. ??? I’m not sure where this pick comes from, especially in the 3rd round. Anyone with a clue please give us some insight. Maybe a 5 or later but 3rd? Confused. Thanks, Since ’61

    1. NFL Draft Report

      One of my favorites making a rapid rise up draft boards is Southern Mississippi’s Khyri Thornton. Playing nose guard is usually a role reserved for those with thick skin, not concerned about their own personal success, but that of their team. That is what made it so frustrating for Thornton, who had perhaps two of the finest seasons ever by a Golden Eagles interior line defender the last two seasons, only to see USM win just one of twenty-four contests during that span.

      Battling for a starting job during his first two seasons in the program, Thornton played a big part in that success, as the Eagles went 8-5 during his freshman campaign and 12-2 during his sophomore season. That would see Southern Mississippi’s fortunes change drastically in 2012, as the lost all twelve contests, followed by just one victory during a twelve-game 2013 schedule.

      In run defense, Thorton is stout at the point of attack and plays with good leverage, enough to anchor and create a pile. He is an alert defender who works hard to keep containment, showing good lateral agility and balance to slide while fighting blockers. He has the long arms (78 5/8-inch wing span) and good strength to lock-out.

      Thornton possesses explosive hands to disengage and is the type that won’t shed the block until he reads where the ball carrier is going. He demonstrates good effort laterally and downfield in pursuit, along with surprising speed for a man his size (5.03 in the 40-yard dash at the Combine). He can provide an explosive initial punch to jar the offensive lineman back onto his heels, thanks to powerful and quick hands to shed blocks.

      Thornton flashes some explosiveness as a hitter, needing little momentum to rock the ball carrier. He has a thick lower body, which helps him anchor well against the run. He is a powerful bull rusher with good hand strength to disengage quickly, along with the upper-body strength to pull down ball carriers while occupied with a blocker.

      He later calls Thornton the “Most Underrated” at the position.

      1. This is a sign that TT is reaching down for Brett! Let the healing begin. I hope this guy is a future DL star for GB.

  4. Still don’t get it. They’re talking about playing this guy as a DE. Seems the mantra they’ve been repeating all off season is taller DE’s with long arms to knock down passes. The guy’s mobile but looks like a late rounder / free agent on paper.

  5. Whaaa? Everything I’m digging up on him says short arms & wears down quickly. Thanks for the draft report Jersey! That would make this pick make some sense if this guy is what that report claims!

  6. Here we go again. We just picked RICHARD RODGERS TE from CAL. another 5-6 round projection guy, LOL

  7. Al – thanks for the information. Helps me feel better about this pick. Thanks, Since ’61

  8. Negatives

    Not a very smooth all-around athlete—movement and agility in tight spaces is choppy.
    Routes are sloppy and lazy—almost always rounded off and takes a lot of wasted steps, which can throw off the timing of the route.
    Struggles to fight through press coverage against stronger linebackers and lacks the elite speed to scare coverage linebackers away from getting physical with him off the snap.
    Inconsistent hands and had quite a few bad drops due to a lack of focus.
    Extremely limited as a blocker.
    Lacks the lower body strength to hold his ground against more physical defensive ends and linebackers in the blocking game.
    Relies heavily on the chop block technique, potentially to make up for his lack of ability to keep defenders engaged.
    Slow to get out of his stance on the line of scrimmage at times and is often late to react to blitzing linebackers.
    Lack of agility limits his catch radius and he is very inconsistent adjusting to poorly placed balls.
    Limited experience—only started 11 career games.

  9. Positives

    Adequate height and overall build.
    Has enough speed to be a threat after the catch when he’s given an open lane.
    Size and athleticism gives him the potential to develop as a move blocker.
    Has experience lining up on the line, in the slot and occasionally in the backfield.
    Essentially used as a slot receiver during majority of 2013 season due to Cal’s transition to Sonny Dykes’ offensive scheme.
    Flashes impressive acceleration off the line of scrimmage at times, giving some hope that he can develop as a route runner.
    Shows the ability to make some difficult catches at times.
    Has the potential to develop reliable hands once he improves his focus.
    Does a nice job attempting to catch with his hands and quickly secure the football.
    Durable player, who appeared in 35 of 37 possible games.
    Son of Carolina Panthers special teams coach Richard Rodgers Sr.

  10. Ted asleep at the switch once again. Only needed a few impact players to fill the need holes. Could have easily used the extra 3 and 5 + other trade options to get those key players as others are doing. Instead, he reinforces NFL networks ranking as worst GM in the division by taking 3 head scratchers. Yet another DL nobody and a settle for TE because he was hoping one of 3 he wanted would still be there. Needed an ILB, no dice. Started promising because he was lucky Dix was still there. Since then, typical WTF Ted Thompson stupid ass selections. This just in, TT still sucks!

  11. left Barrow and Skov on the board for these 3rd rd picks????? Thornton wouldn’t be there a round later? Or 5th rd? TT seems to bask in being odd as can be.

  12. Erased my whole comment for being too caustic. Confused by the 3rd round picks. Deep draft, plenty of prospects who can help in year 1. Never heard of Thornton or Rodgers, so hard to comment on them. The scouting reports seem to contradict each other. Does Thornton have long or short arms? Someone measured 78 inches, which is pretty darn good, so I hope the rest of that scout’s report is accurate. Still, both seem like giant reaches.

  13. I’m just not excited about this Draft. One of the more frustrating drafts I’ve witnessed in awhile

  14. Some very odd picks to say the least, but then again, what do we know? Trust that Ted and the staff have done their homework…..I’ll admit, picking a WR in the 2nd rd and then two complete no names in the 3rd is a bit disturbing.

    Thornton sounds like a project and Richard Rodgers sounds good, but very much a finesse player with no blocking skills. We need IMPACT players, especially in these early rounds. I sure hope I’m wrong about these picks, because these are head scratchers.

  15. Never heard of this Thornton kid. Another big surprise by TT. I think TT is going for high character, high durability here. Watching the video, you don’t see this kid giving up ever. In one play, he fell down and got up instantaneously to get the QB. He’s a bulldog. Strong legs. Can drive double teams back. Hope TT strategy for getting durable guys pay off so we are not king of injuries again.

  16. When you watch this guy, there’s some Mike Daniels in his make-up, which isn’t a bad thing. Looks like he plays with fire and enthusiasm.

    As an “ascending” player, it’s hard to say when he would’ve come off the board. Pick likely means Johnny Jolly’s days in GB are over.

    1. …you never know how much a player loses in the scouting process by playing on awful teams with no supporting cast.

  17. The draft is about projecting what kind of player someone WILL BECOME, not what they currently are. The guy is already strong, quick and has good lateral movement. He has been stuck on a bad team but still worked hard. Remind you of anyone (Bak)?Anyone else think that he will play even better on a good team that wins? Don’t get too fixed on a players college stats. Some guys top out in college. Some get better. This guy was coming on strong during this process. GoPack!

    1. I agree , he takes on double teams all the time and shows hustle. A true nose tackle type. However, it has been a strange draft.

  18. Not sure about a few of these picks. It’s always easier to draft “name” players to keep the fans happy. I guess this is where you have to trust the scouting ability of recognize talent.TT puts his job on the line each year about draft time then waits a year or more to see how it turned out. being successful, record wise, puts us in the bottom half of drafting teams. I’d just look for trading up more to fill a need when you have strong info on a particular player. Matthews seemed to turn out pretty well on that strategy.

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