On December 21st, Cody Thompson and the Toledo Rockets look to finish their season on a three-game win streak against Florida International in the Bahamas Bowl. The 6-foot-2-inch, 205 pound redshirt senior is an older prospect with a solid production profile, especially early in his career. Where does he fit in the dynasty rookie draft landscape?
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.
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. And he’ll have a chance to showcase his ability for scouts at the East-West Shrine Game in January. 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.
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.
Had it not been for a devastating injury that derailed a promising junior season, Thompson’s career arc could easily have looked much different. And assuming he’s healthy and participates at the combine, he has the opportunity to turn heads based on his past workout results. But if Thompson does find sustained success in the NFL, he will be bucking several historical trends rooted in age and production. The next data point in his evaluation process will come against a Florida International secondary ranked 71st in pass defense according to S&P+.