The Cincinnati Bengals surprised much of its fanbase at the 2012 NFL Draft by selecting two defensive tackles in the first three rounds. The team obviously places a lot of emphasis on its defensive front and felt it was the right investment. The second of those defensive tackles was Clemson’s Brandon Thompson, and many thought he was a great value selection in the third round. He is working on making those people right, and will probably be featured even more in 2014.
His rookie season saw him playing in just three games and making little impact. A season, and a lot of hard work, later, and Thompson was on the field in all 16 games, starting seven. The injury to Geno Atkins certainly gave him a chance to play more, but he showed that he belonged in the NFL. He made his presence felt in more than one game with solid play against the run as well as posting one and a half sacks.
Coming out of college, he was lauded for his combination of strength, size, and quickness, and it was thought that he would be the heir apparent to Domata Peko alongside Atkins at some point. His skill set seemed perfect to slide in as a run stuffer who eats up blocks, enabling the other linemen to make plays. He moves well along the line, and is stong enough to drag ball carriers down, even if he only gets a single hand on them.
Going into 2014, Peko and Atkins still would seem to have a stranglehold on the starting jobs. However, Thompson showed enough that he should see plenty of action as the third defensive tackle. If there’s another injury, he’s good enough to warrant the starting spot. The Bengals have done a great job at finding value in the middle rounds of the draft, and it seems likely that Brandon Thompson can be added to that list.