Cedric Thornton agreed to a 4 year deal with the Cowboys who intend to convert the 3-4 defensive end to the 1 technique defensive tackle position.
According to unverified reports, Cedric Thornton agreed to a four year deal worth over $18 million with $6 million in guaranteed money. Thornton was signed by the Philadelphia Eagles as an undrafted free agent following the 2011 NFL Draft and lockout.
Cedric Thornton initially made the 53-man roster following 2011 training camp, but was waived to make room for offensive lineman Kyle DeVan on September 4. He was re-signed to the team’s practice squad the next day. Thornton spent the first thirteen weeks of the season on the practice squad, and was promoted to the team’s active roster on December 12.
Cedric Thornton saw his playing time increase dramatically in 2012. In 2013, Thornton emerged as the Eagles starting defensive end. In 2014, he would team up with Fletcher Cox, Bennie Logan, Beau Allen and Vinny Curry to form the Eagles’ strongest defensive line corps since the early 90’s.
Height|Weight: 6-4 309
Arms: 33 5/8″
College: Southern Arkansas
40 time: 5.26
Bench Reps: 23
Vertical Jump: 27″
I haven’t had the opportunity to study Cedric Thornton as a pro because the news just broke of his signing, but I’m referring back to old college notes for an initial report. Our in-house scout, Mike Ray, will be covering his pro career in an upcoming episode of A Scouts Perspective that will air within the next couple of days and I will follow up with my film study from the NFL in another article.
College Film Study:
- Cedric Thornton was a Division II defensive tackle that I thought would have to step up his game at the next level. He appeared to have the tools to contribute as a situational player in the rotation as a 1st or 2nd year player. Thornton had the size and foot quickness to make plays both along the line and in space which led me to believe he could develop in to a starter at the NFL level. I originally saw him as a 3 technique because of his foot quickness, but knew he would need to develop his hands and pass rushing technique.
- Cedric Thornton flashed the strength to fight off blockers and clog up running lanes. My Knock on him coming out of college was that he struggled to maintain leverage and could be blown off the ball. The other knock was that he would need to improve his technique as a pass rusher.
- Had a big frame and a good first step. Played with good range and could make plays outside the tackle box. Had a good first punch and used his long arms to keep blockers at bay. Decent bull rush and enough burst to get after the quarterback.
- Cedric Thornton needed to maintain better control of his pad level and got overpowered by bigger blockers in close quarters. . Lacked good closing speed. Lacked ideal upper body strength but exhibited good core strength. Didn’t show many pass rush moves or counter moves. I wasn’t impressed with his hand placement and thought he lacked endurance. Needed to improve his lower body strength because he struggled to anchor against the run. I had put a 6th-7th round grade on him at the time.
The Eagles trainers did a good job of getting him stronger and he developed in to a solid run defender at the NFL level. There are those defending his lack of sack production in the NFL, but that was his problem in college too. I am anxious to study his NFL tape and do a follow up. For the time being I am trusting my Buddy Bryan Broaddus who told me he is an upgrade over Nick Hayden.
Whether or not he will covert well to the 1 technique defensive tackle position is yet to be seen. I prefer at least 325 lbs in the middle, but at this time I need to give him the benefit of the doubt. The biggest problem the Cowboys have had is getting to the QB. I realize the primary function of a 3-4 defensive end is holding up blockers, but then again, there are numerous 3-4 ends getting to the QB. My biggest knock on Cedric Thornton coming out was his inability to do so. JJ Watt is by far the best at it.
My biggest concern moving forward is whether or not he will be able to eat up space, collapse a pocket and draw double teams which will create lanes for the LBs and enable Tyrone Crawford to function properly in his role.