Ambry Thomas - Cornerback, Michigan
By the numbers:
6'0", 191 pounds per pro day measurements.
Opted out of the 2020 season.
2019: 38 tackles (3.0 for loss), three passes broken up and three interceptions in 12 games played.
Athletically, Ambry Thomas is an NFL-ready prospect. He accelerates quickly and has great long speed (his 4.37u 40-yard dash time backs that up). His click-and-close ability is impressive, as are his transitions. He has fluid hips and is capable of mirroring receivers throughout their routes. It's also worth noting that Thomas doubled as a return man during his first two seasons at Michigan.
Man coverage is where Thomas made a name for himself in college. He was frequently left on an island and did just fine. He has respectable length for a boundary cornerback and displayed active hand usage from the line of scrimmage, all the way to the catch point. Thomas elevates well and closes hard on the ball. His 2019 tape was littered with instances of him being a disruptive force.
While Thomas is tall enough to thrive on the outside, his frame has always been extremely lean. He's listed at 182 pounds on Michigan's website but managed to bulk up to 191 for his pro day. That's a major difference that's worth noting as he heads to the NFL. Thomas's best reps often were in man, so having the requisite strength to hold his own in press coverage will come in handy. It may also make him more of a factor in run support. This added muscle is a solid start.
Inexperience and youth, while offering room to grow, are downsides with Thomas. He was a one-year starter in college and doesn't have any 2020 tape (outside of the Senior Bowl) to showcase improvement on. He's likely nothing more than a situational or nickel cornerback as a rookie, and being brought along slowly will be paramount. He has the smarts to eventually be a starting boundary option, although he needs to improve his spacing and instincts in zone coverage first.
How Thomas fits with the Chiefs:
As things currently stand, the Chiefs' trio of top cornerbacks consists of Charvarius Ward, L'Jarius Sneed and Rashad Fenton. DeAndre Baker is a wild-card, but he's returning from a major leg injury. The Chiefs are in need of another cornerback, and Thomas makes good sense as a physical player who could begin his career on the inside and later be kicked to the outside thereafter. He's a quality fit in Steve Spagnuolo's man-heavy scheme.
Thomas has desirable athleticism, and his size is in a much better spot now than it was a few months ago. He plays a brand of football that should translate well to the NFL. He needs a year to reacclimate himself to the game but if given proper time to develop, he very well could become a starting-caliber player in the near future. Thomas grades out as a late third-round pick who should provide great value to the right team.