With two value picks in Ha-Ha Clinton-Dix and Davante Adams under their belt, the Green Bay Packers held two more picks in the third round of the 2014 NFL draft.
Safety was such a huge area of need that was promptly filled and wide receiver seemed to take everyone by surprise, especially with how thin the defense is at inside linebacker.
“With the 85th pick in the 2014 NFL draft, the Green Bay Packers select …
Khryi Thornton, Defensive Lineman — Southern Mississippi
Meet and Greet
Khyri Thornton is originally from Panama City, Fla. He was always a commendable athlete but exhibited some off-field issues that originally derailed his football plans, namely academic.
He didn’t have the grades necessary to attend a big-time university and had to spend a year at a preparatory school to meet any collegiate requirements, academically. After meeting NCAA requirements and committing to South Florida, the school still denied Thornton entry and he decided to enroll at Southern Mississippi instead, where he was redshirted in 2009.
Show Me the Stats
Khryi Thornton was redshirted in 2009 but played in all 13 games in 2010, registering 17 tackles (5 for a loss) and 2.5 sacks.
In 2011, Thornton played in 14 games and recorded 24 tackles (9 for a loss) and added 1.5 sacks; he batted down a pass and forced a fumble in that campaign as well. Once Thornton became the primary defensive tackle in 2012, starting 11 of 12 games, his production really increased. He accumulated 36 tackles (9.5 for a loss), a sack, a batted pass, a forced fumble AND an interception to end his junior year.
His senior year, he put 39 more tackles onto his resume but ended the season with a bone bruise that left internal bleeding, causing him to miss his final college football game.
What Can You Do for Me Now?
Khyri Thornton is the type of player that will need development. He was a surprise pick for the Packers in the third round, as he was projected to slide down into the fifth or sixth round. He was a highly regarded college athlete, but lacks the stamina to produce at a high level for long periods of time. He may turn into an every down defensive player if the Packers decide they need him to be one, but as of now he’s a good candidate for team growth.
He does have a background consistent with being a team leader. He was voted permanent team captain his senior year of college and will bring an air of positive energy and leadership to the squad, especially among the rookie class.
Thornton will probably be in the rotation at defensive lineman, as the Packers have made it clear that they are trying to get younger and faster on defense. The Packers have gone on record as wanting to “unleash” some young, raw talent at the defensive positions this year. While Thornton is a solid, versatile player who can line up anywhere on the defensive line, his production is most likely rooted in the future.
What Will You Do for Me Later?
With players like C.J Wilson, Ryan Pickett and B.J. Raji all leading the charge on the defensive line last year, it was clearly aging. The Packers picked up some young talent in Nick Perry, Mike Daniels, Mike Neal and Josh Boyd to promote youth on the line. Thornton will fit into that category, as well. When the veterans move on from the Packers front line; there needs to be fresh legs who already know the ins and outs of the defense. In a year or two, Thornton (if he puts his mind and energy to it …) could be a versatile mainstay.
Overall Draft Grade
While the defensive line was definitely in need of a sprucing up, I think that Thornton was a bit of a reach in the third round, given his raw abilities. He has all the tools to be a premier defensive lineman but needs tailored attention and a good year or two of learning from coaches and teammates. He’s a very good candidate for an immediate solid backup but needs some grooming to pull out the real depth of his talents.