Photo of Hugh Thornton
Drafted By: Colts
  • Round 3
  • Pick 24
  • Overall 86

Combine Results

Grade
67.9 ?
  • 5.11 SEC
    Top Performer
  • 27 REPS
    Top Performer
  • 7.45 SEC
    Top Performer
  • 4.63 SEC
    Top Performer

Draft Analysis:

"He's one of those guys you root for. He's been through a lot. I liked him at the Senior Bowl. If he can be more consistent with his technique, he'll make a good living in the NFL." -- Mike Mayock

  • 6'3" Height
  • 34 1/8" Arm Length
  • 320LBS. Weight
  • 10" Hands

Overview

Thornton went through extreme difficulties as a child, seeing his parents get divorced, finding his mother and sister murdered while visiting them in Jamaica over Christmas break in 2004, and eventually moving to Ohio before his senior year in high school to live with his aunt after being abused by his father while living with him in Idaho. He also hurt his own cause by being arrested for underage consumption in Champaign in 2009 and attempting to use a fake ID card the following fall. But he’s fought through all of that, however, to become a reliable, versatile lineman with NFL potential.

The all-state pick during his senior year also ranked third in Ohio as a heavyweight wrestler – after winning two state titles in Idaho. That grappling background make it little surprise that he took off his redshirt in 2009 to start the Illini’s final seven games at right tackle. He moved to weak-side guard for eight starts in 13 games played as a sophomore, then started 10 more games there in 2011, missing two games with a leg injury. Coaches plugged him in at left tackle for 2012 to get their best linemen on the field.

Analysis

Strengths

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.

Weaknesses

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.

NFL Comparison

Kevin Boothe

Bottom Line

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.
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Grade Title Draft (Round) Description
96-100 Future Hall of Famer Top Pick A once-in-a-generation type prospect who could change how his position is played
85-95 Immediate Starter 1st An impact player with the ability/intangibles to become a Pro Bowl player. Expect to start immediately except in a unique situation (i.e. behind a veteran starter).
70-84 Eventual Starter 2nd-3rd A quality player who will contribute to the team early on and is expected to develop into a starter. A reliable player who brings value to the position.
50-69 Draftable Player 4th-7th A prospect with the ability to make team as a backup/role player. Needs to be a special teams contributor at applicable positions. Players in the high range of this category might have long-term potential.
20-49 Free Agent UDFA A player with solid measurables, intangibles, college achievements, or a developing skill that warrants an opportunity in an NFL camp. In the right situation, he could earn a place on a 53-man roster, but most likely will be a practice squad player or a camp body.

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