Thompkins had planned on finishing his collegiate career at the University of Tennessee, but then-Volunteers head coach Lane Kiffin left after the junior college transfer had signed his letter of intent. Naturally, Thompkins looked into other schools since his coach was no longer in Knoxville; unfortunately, the NCAA decided that coaches are allowed more mobility than players, forcing Thompkins to sit out the 2010 season before beginning his career with the Bearcats. Why Cincinnati, you ask? One reason might have been that his cousin, Antonio Brown, played for UC head coach Butch Jones at Central Michigan before going to the Pittsburgh Steelers.
He played in all 13 games, starting 12, as a junior in 2011, finishing second on the team with 44 receptions for 536 yards and two scores. At El Camino Community College, he led the Warriors in catches (69), receiving yards (1,020) and receiving touchdowns (nine) in 2009. Although Thompkins suited up for Miami’s famed Northwestern program, he wasn’t a star like his younger brother Kendal (now a senior receiver at the University of Miami). In fact, he was arrested several times during high school and didn’t think about taking up football until at age 19; but seeing Kendal get his offer from Miami pushed him to turn his athleticism into a career.
Possesses just enough size and speed to play outside in the NFL, yet also has enough quickness to find room to run from the slot. Willing to take hits on crossers, and his strong hands allow him to catch balls away from his frame whether challenged or on his own. Goes up and fight for jump balls. Owns the foot quickness and flexibility to drop his hips and cut on outs and comebacks routes, and also the shake and hands off the line to beat press coverage. A physical blocker for run plays and quick screens, extending his arms and mirroring to sustain on the outside and crashing down on linebackers to create running room on off-tackle runs. Uses that physicality to separate from cornerbacks downfield, using his length to extend just before the ball arrives.
Doesn’t necessarily explode off the line, and it takes him a bit of time to get to top speed. Won’t have a size and strength advantage against most NFL cornerbacks. Keeping his feet after making catches downfield would help him get into the end zone more regularly.
A junior college transfer originally headed to Tennessee before Lane Kiffin left for USC, Thompkins showed promise as a junior for the Bearcats (44 receptions, 536 yards, two TD) after sitting out a redshirt season. Since he’s not elite in his speed or size, Thompkins won’t be a top prospect – but it won’t be surprising if he shines as an intermediate threat who could become a solid number two or three receiver at the next level.
Future Hall of Famer
A once-in-a-generation type prospect who could change how his position is played
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).
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.
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.
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.