Bradley Leeb-USA TODAY Sports
With the 24th pick in the third round of the NFL Draft, the Colts addressed a need at offensive guard, electing to pick Hugh Thornton, a rather large OG out of the University of Illinois and the 6th rated guard in the draft, according to CBS Sports. At 6-3, 320 pounds, Thornton still has some decent agility to stay in front of defensive linemen, but he’s known more for being a strong, overpowering lineman – perhaps a bit of a road grader. Maybe it’s fitting that he was introduced by former Colts LT Tarik Glenn, who was an exceptionally powerful offensive lineman in his day (though probably a bit more athletic than Thornton).
There aren’t a great deal of videos on Thornton floating around the Internet, so, without further ado, here is CBS Sports’ take on the big fella. The positives section is quite a bit longer than the negatives:
POSITIVES: Thick, powerful frame with good arm length. A natural bender who establishes a solid base routinely in pass protection and utilizes lower-body leverage extremely well against longer, taller defenders. Exhibits powerful, heavy hands on contact, and does a good job of keeping his frame clean by extending his arms consistently.
Displays impressive upper-body strength to ragdoll and toss defenders aside at the point of attack. Possesses lateral fluidity and agility to close off the edge, and redirects with some suddenness to thwart the quick counter move. Targets decisively in space and possesses good burst to lead the second-level charge in the run game. Squares up nicely on the run and displays flexibility and suddenness to adjust to defenders coming from various angles in space. Plays with a bit of a nasty streak, and fights to the whistle. Versatile lineman with experience at guard and tackle.
NEGATIVES: Will get anxious and overextend at times off the snap. Leads with his shoulder and will drop his head when engaging defenders in space. Lacks the ideal height and length for a prototypical NFL tackle. Will get too upright in his kick-slide taking him out of position to utilize leverage on contact. Will stop moving his feet when asked to hold position, leaving him susceptible to being thrown aside or pulled to the ground.
COMPARES TO: Sean Locklear, OT, New York Giants - Thornton, like Locklear, may not possess the ideal frame to play tackle at the next level, but his physicality, flexibility and natural athleticism help him to compensate. A probable mid-round selection with starter upside.
And NFL.com’s analysis, from Thornton’s combine profile:
Tenacious blocker once engaged either in the run game or pass pro, finishes blocks to the ground whenever necessary. Good quickness from his stance, can fire out to greet defenders. Very good upper body strength to latch onto and stone targets, possesses footwork to stay with them throughout the play. Quick feet and good straight-line speed also help him block down and reach second-level targets, also pulled for outside runs. Uses athleticism and length as an effective cut blocker in space to take out defenders.
Tall for an interior player, but lacks pure lateral movement to stay outside at the next level. Bends at the waist too regularly in pass protection, both when trying to land a punch or failing to move his feet against speed rushers on the edge. Needs to anchor more quickly against bull rushes, has the strength to do so but doesn’t get his hands inside to stop his man’s momentum.
His exceptionally-difficult childhood forced him to deal with this parents’ divorce, the murder of his mother and sister, as well as an abusive father. But Thornton fought through all of that, along with a couple of off-field mistakes, to become a versatile lineman (started at both tackle spots and weak-side guard) and a solid mid-round interior prospect for zone-blocking teams because of his upper-body strength and foot quickness.
UPDATE: We have a scouting video on Thornton, from none other than the New England Patriots website (re-upped in a different spot). Watch for the left guard, number 72:
Also, courtesy of reader paulcareyjr, we have two more videos. Both are intended to show the opposing team's defense (*the* Ohio State and Michigan, respectively), with Thronton playing left tackle in both - watch for 72 again. He will be the one stonewalling defenders on the blind side:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yD9e7GRMZlw versus OSU
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZTTsVTNLYBI versus Michigan
Ladies and gentlemen, this kid can PLAY.
Thornton has had a long hard road to where he is, but with some of the problems along the Colts offensive line compounded by durability issues, he could find himself on the field in 2013. Most of his negatives, other than knocks against his height and build, are technique and mental issues, which can be corrected if he is a coachable player. Many solid offensive linemen have come into the league in the mid to late rounds, and Thornton could become yet another if he works on some of his fundamentals. It isn’t a particularly exciting pick; but in the third round, what is?
Welcome to Indy, Hugh Thornton.
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3 year starter and was a lead blocker on the best rushing team in the ncaa. Definite potential. like this pick as it fills what i had as our biggest remaining area of need.
Also this isn't much but you can see how he played vs the ohio state, still a very solid game.
So here is a game tape of every offensive play of Illinois vs Michigan, he plays LT and again watch for #72.
He seemed to have a really good game against them, showed speed to get to the second level, a tenacity to block until the whistle, and a quickness to get to his man, he really did not get beat besides once I believe, and he is also pretty decent in the screen game, something that I think we should utilize a little more at times. There are a couple plays where you see him bending at his waist instead of moving his feet to guard the defender, but if he can get that straightened out I see no really weaknesses in his game, while I have only seen this one tape I can easily see him as one of the starting guards for the Colts next year.
Anyone else hoping we get the RB from Stanford tomorrow? He's not the strongest or fastest, but he's close. And he also has great receiving skills and is excellent in pass protection.
Good job getting this info up so quickly, Marcus. It looks like the Pats didn't like their bandwidth abused by Colts fans and took the video down. There was a video mostly about his life story on Packers web site.
Great work, Marcus!
I like the position, and everything I've read leads me to believe he'll at least compete for the starting job. If you can get a starter in round 3, you've done a good job. Going to be interesting to see how the Reitz - Thomas - Thornton situation plays out.
Don't know much about him, but what I'm reading sounds good. He was the best OG on the board according to NFLDraftScouts. And he was one of the biggest. Was he a bright spot on a horrible team? I don't want to give up on Ijalana until he gets cut though. If he gets healthy it's like getting another top draft pick. If McGlynn is our fourth G (or cut) it would mean we have a pretty decent line.
Seems like most of his negatives are limitations at the tackle position. Nice to have the flexibility but let's keep him inside and let him tee up. Castonzo Thomas Shipley Thornton Cherlius is a major upgrade on the line, no mistaking it.
Glad Colts picked an OG. Looks like a solid BPA pick. Protect Luck and good things will start to happen. Tomorrow hopefully the Colts can find a WR, CB and perhaps a RB. Bad news is that Ben Ijalana is likely out the door. Too bad he has never been able to stay healthy. Grigson has turned the page. Sad that lots of promise never materialized.
@codrutc I agree, especially after watching those videos against Michigan & Ohio St. I can't wait to see this guy play.
@paulcareyjr Thanks for the post. I feel a lot better about the pick now.
@paulcareyjr Thanks for those. I added them both with credit to you. Man, Grigs and co. may have really unearthed a gem this time. That kid has a nasty streak, and he uses it well.
@paulcareyjr Playing OT against a very good OSU D and doing pretty well. He may be able to back up at RT if called.
@paulcareyjr A play that stood out early was when there was a bobbled snap in the shotgun and he blocked two guys for long enough for the QB to have plenty of time to recover. Quite impressive.
@paulcareyjr Thanks for posting these. I'm getting excited about this kid, he looks solid. Our Oline coach recruited him to Illinois, so they must like his character too.
@Rakes04 I hope Lattimore drops, as he obviously has 1st round talent, but injury would obviously be a concern. Stepfan is a MAN tho, and would be a solid pickup in the late 4th if he's there.
@Rakes04 yup, I really like him for those reasons, he also has good vision out of the backfield, not sure that we go after him because there are still questions to answer at different positions, but definitely one of the players I like in the later rounds
@codrutc Dangit! Stinking pats.
@GregC Thank you! I agree. One of those guys is going to be the odd man out. I'm curious as to who it will be.
@smonroe I keep hoping Ijalana can come back healthy. Grigson likes Ijalana's skill, but, of course he isn't sure if the guy can stay on the field and have a career in the NFL. He looks like solid lineman, protecting a player loosely defined as a quarterback. I finally found a video of the guy.........from patriots.com, of all places:
@Coltsheadben True. When wrote his negatives, it was as though they were suddenly evaluation a tackle. I agree, this guy could start if he cleans up his technique. (I also hope Shipley goes ahead and takes Satele's spot. He played well there, despite not being very "fast")
@talkingplayoffs Oops. I was in a hurry. reload in about 5 minutes ;)
I really like Ijalana, too. Every quote from him sounds like he's a really nice guy apart from being talented. He just had terrible luck with injuries. I don't know if he'll make the team this time around.
@hankster So many wide receivers left. Big, tall guys with raw talent. I kinda wanted them to get Rodgers.
@MarcusDugan your welcome, not really to excited about the Holmes pick, did not mind it at first, but he does not seem like a good scheme fit, seems to have a big problem with strong DTs, so only 1 pick that I really like so far, not a good year for me and the Colts drafting
@codrutc Found a new link for it. I don't know how long they'll leave it up either.
@smonroe I changed the subject to Thornton, there. It's getting late, and I'm making less and less sense...
@MarcusDugan @Coltsheadben That's likely because he played tackle last year and guard before that. Is that right?
@Kyle Rodriguez There are a surprisingly number of touted WRs still available. Apparently with other teams passing on them as well, they too did not consider them BPA as well. Are you sure Grigson and staff did not have Thornton as the Colts draft board BPA?
@paulcareyjr I'm not sure what their plan is for Holmes. Seems to me like he needs to bulk up and build some strength if he's going to make this team.
@codrutc Sorry it took me so long to get back on here. I'm sure you've answered your own question by now. But, I just have to say, this kid looked surprisingly solid at tackle, didn't?