Cody Thompson May Be the Best Sleeper In This Draft Class

Now that we have official combine testing results for the majority of the 2019 NFL Draft class, it’s time for a quick review of former Toledo Rockets’ wide receiver Cody Thompson.1

THE EARLY YEARS

As a two-star prospect from Ohio, Thompson received just one scholarship offer. He signed with Toledo in 2014 but had just four receptions in seven games as a freshman. His production spiked in 2015 with an explosive 37-825-5 season-long line. He’s one of 14 players since 2010 with at least 800 yards receiving on 40 or fewer receptions in a season. Only three other sophomores have met that criteria in the same period.

It was in Thompson’s junior season, however, when many around the country started to take notice. Averaging 19.8 yards per reception, Thompson finished 16th in yards receiving (1,269) and tied for sixth in receiving TDs (11) nationally. Thompson’s 0.27 Dominator Rating fell short of a true breakout season, however, due in part to Toledo’s prolific passing attack and wealth of surrounding talent, including Kareem Hunt.

2017 AND BEYOND

Thompson started the 2017 season on a tear racking up 27-505-4 in his first four games. Unfortunately, he broke his leg in Week 5, ending his season. There’s no telling how things may have looked had he stayed healthy, but his prorated yardage total (1,515) would have ranked second nationally that season behind only James Washington. Projecting stats for injured players isn’t foolproof but Thompson was on a special trajectory prior to his injury.

Thompson returned for his senior season in 2018 but saw a decline in production (43-592-10) while vying for targets with Dionate Johnson and Jon’Vea Johnson. Despite a strong TD total, his 13.8 yards per reception was his lowest since 2015.

AGE AND PRODUCTION

As far as raw statistics are concerned, Thompson has been one of the most productive WRs in the country since arriving at Toledo in 2014. But his age (22.9) and lack of a true breakout season are reasons for concern. According to Blair Andrews, only about 12 percent of seasons played by WRs who were 23 years old as rookies have finished in the top 24 in PPR.
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And referencing Kevin Cole’s WR Regression Tree, Thompson falls into a cohort with a measly three percent success rate based on a combination of his career market share and final-season production.
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ATHLETICISM

Due to his age and injury history, a strong combine performance felt like a must for Thompson to stay safely in draftable territory. And while he didn’t blow away the competition, Thompson put up solid numbers particularly in the vertical jump (38.5 inches) and 20-yard shuttle (4.03) drills where he finished in the 84th and 90th percentiles, respectively. His 4.57-second forty-yard dash combined with his 6-foot-1, 205-pound frame resulted in a Freak Score of 49, slotted between DaMarkus Lodge and Stanley Morgan Jr. 

OUTLOOK

Thompson’s consistent production during his four full seasons at Toledo is impressive. His solid workout numbers are also a strong sign indicating that he belongs at the next level. But his age and potential day-three draft status are major factors pulling down his dynasty value, relegating him to low-risk, medium reward territory in the later rounds of most rookie drafts this summer.

  1. The original, pre-combine version of this article was published on December 20, 2018  (back)