08 Aug Preseason Scouting Notes: Ambry Thomas, CB, Michigan
Senior | 6’0″ 182 lb | Detroit, MI
A lockdown corner who stays glued to receivers with impressive press coverage skills, but can struggle as a tackler
As the lockdown corner on Michigan’s defense, Ambry Thomas is tasked with manning up on opposing stud receivers every game. After showing out in coverage in 2019, Thomas will lead the Michigan secondary entering 2020. Michigan asks Thomas to man up against opposing receivers on the outside and in nickel. He utilizes press coverage so well on the outside that receivers have a tough time creating separation against him. Michigan demands much from him, playing mostly man coverage. Michigan dabbles in zone coverages, typically having Thomas cover the flat and/or intermediate outside range such as in Cover 2.
– Fluid hip transition towards the outside, allowing for better coverage of seam routes along the sideline
– Attaches to the hip of route runners with very tight coverage
– Sufficient ball skills. Effectively breaks up passes downfield and plays through receivers to the ball
– Utilizes oily hip rotation to keep up with double moves
– Impressive ability to keep up with agile receivers and quick routes allows for him to excel in covering opposing No. 1 receivers
– Shows great physicality in press coverage which made it difficult for receivers to bully him
– Excellent length and hand usage in press coverage
– Has experience playing gunner and kick returner for special teams
Areas to improve:
– Has struggled to tackle ball carriers in the open field due to arm tackles and lack of aggression
– Somewhat passive in run defense. Lacks aggression at times
– Lacks the size to tackle big threats attacking him with the ball
– Has gotten shredded on deep routes occasionally on double moves
– Clearly excels more in man coverage than zone because he can’t effectively utilize his press coverage skills and close to the vest hand usage
– There questions about his ability to consistently keep up with speedsters on deep routes
– Colitis in the 2019 offseason. Missed no games
Thomas’ ability to win in press man coverage means that he will excel in Belichikian defensive systems where corners are asked to man up against receivers frequently. With his special teams experience, Thomas is a perfect fit for the Belichik coaching tree in many respects. Although he can struggle in the run game, coverage is key in today’s NFL, and a player who can press like Thomas will inevitably be drafted highly and sought after by many teams. Expect Thomas to be drafted mid-Day 2 by a CB needy team in 2021.
What to watch in 2020:
Thomas showed impressive press coverage skills in Michigan’s vaunted defense, but his ability to improve in zone coverage could make him a much more well-rounded player. Although he wasn’t a liability in zone coverage, he was clearly less comfortable. Where Thomas’ improvement is most dire is his run defense. In 2019 he looked rather slim and was abused by thicker rushers in the open field at times. Although, this could have been due to him losing weight during the offseason as a result of an untimely colitis diagnosis. If Thomas can improve in his tackling, then he could truly complete his repertoire of CB abilities and cement himself as one of the top corners of the 2020 class.
Matt is a data science major at the University of Michigan.
He’s molded his propensity for data and his love for football into his analytics infused scouting.
His loyalty to the Michigan Wolverines is second only to his passionate hatred of Ohio State.
When he isn’t watching football, Matt plays a slew of video games.