Cedric Thornton Signs With Cowboys

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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.

Cedric Thornton 1

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.

Cedric Thornton 3Cedric Thornton, DE/DT

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.
  • Cedric Thornton

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.

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  • Gabriel Carrasco

    Oh yeah he’s an upgrade over Hayden. It’s not a ground breaking signing or anything. But he gets the job done. He was underrated on a defensive front that included Fletcher Cox and Bennie Logan. He has routinely ranked as one of the better 3-4 DE against the run. There are times where he gave Martin some problems. I would still draft a DT in round 4, but it’s a nice signing that is under the radar.

    • I was surprised I had my old college notes lol. As it turns out, I had him on my list for the “Guys No One Is Talking About” and never got the report done. I am anxious to study his NFL tape. How well do you think he will handle the transition to the 1-Tech?

      • Gabriel Carrasco

        That’s the problem. I am not quite sure how he would handle the transition. But the one thing I know is he is not afraid to take on doubles and knows how to split them. As a pass rusher he gives you nothing in terms of sacks, but he can create pressure. I think it would be fine, I still want a DT in round 4 or 6. Reader, Hargrove, or Ridgeway would be fine. I wouldn’t mind if they still took Billings or Reed in round 2 though.

        • This signing scares me for the simple fact Jerry will think he addressed the pass rush and draft a RB too early or another flashy position. I have seen the pattern too many times before. I would feel much more comfortable with a true 1 tech who has demonstrated he can get to the QB. That wont happen now. I don’t want pressure, I want hits, knockdowns and sacks. That’s what gets a QB rattled. They are accustomed to pressure.

          • Al

            I agree Cas. I never studied this kid in College, but his numbers aren’t jumping out me either. He reminds me of a DT version of Mincey, serviceable, but not great. He is earning half of what top DT’s are getting so I expect half the production.

          • BigDIndiana

            Scheme change could be everything. Like the Irving kid that was in a 3-4 in KC stuck on the practice squad and showed a lot of potential in our 4-3 before getting hurt. Most Lineman not named JJ Watt do better in a 4-3 as they don’t just eat blocks.

          • Al

            I agree there: Hatcher did much better in the 4-3, but he did much better at the 5 than Thornton too. Hatch has 26.5 sacks since 2011 this guy has 4. I have to wait and see what Marinelli can do with him before making a judgment.

          • BigDIndiana

            Not sure he looks at it as a pass rusher but a signal Hayden is gone and an upgrade there. I’ll take him over Hayden. sure wanted butler though in the 2nd. lets hope his natural position is 1 tech

          • Al

            I would still draft a DT like Butler, Reed, Rankins, Reader or Hargrave as insurance. Even the Penn sate kid, Johnson.

          • Al

            This team doesn’t have a starting RDE right now and Lawrence is a ? at LDE following his surgery. That’s not good. We can’t solely rely on a rookie. They need a veteran presence to help them develop.

        • Al

          Even as an undersized 3-4 NT Rat got to the QB. I haven’t seen that in Dallas since he left.

  • californy

    I am sorry I dont like the signing. This team need to pressure on the qb, and Thorton offer nothing in that department . In fact he isnt even mention on this list on Hurries last year http://www.sportingcharts.com/nfl/stats/defensive-hurries/2015/.

    It not like team are running us to death in the NFL, it the pass game where we cant afford to cheat and need to maximized our effort in getting better player and that include better money for the buck on these contract

  • californy

    The way I look at the contract is this way, Thorton will make the same amount of Money what Khalii Mack did in Oakland last year as a rookie. If he can give us 116 tackles and 15 sack then I would say it a good signing. I dont believe in paying part time player starter money at any position

    • You make a valid point there Californy

    • Al

      You hit the nail on the head. I would have rather spent more on a proven top tier CB and then drafted a top tier DT. More bang for the buck in the 2nd to 4th round.

  • Johnathan Nguyen

    I think this signing is to stop the runs up the middle for us. He’s solid in this department. He’s not a pass rusher in anyone’s book lol. He’s rotational at best to me, nothing more.

    • I won’t say much until I see his NFL tape, But I do get a red flag from only 4 sacks since 2011.

      • Johnathan Nguyen

        Yep, no argument here. Pass rusher he is not.

        • I look at front 7’s like in KC, Den, and Car and my head spins. Cin and Stl too. Now look what the Giants did up front. Jerral thinks all you need is overpaid WRs to win and continues to sign bargain basement FAs. for the defense. The Cowboys defense only had 1 player in the top 10 of any major category and that was Sean Lee who was 9th in the league for tackles. You don’t cut a DeMarcus Ware and sign a Jeremy Mincey.

          • Al

            Ya don’t cut a Jay Ratliff and sign a Haden either

    • I won’t say much until I see his NFL tape, But I do get a red flag from only 4 sacks since 2011.

  • Lionone1

    This is a good deal. I still feel like the Cowboys will keep most of their players. I said they would try to sign McClain to a 5-6 mil deal with incentives I think they’ll do the same with Mo like a 1.5 mil or so incentive base deal. The real trick will be keeping Hardy. I personally would love to sign him so you can go into the draft now and get basically whoever you want. Keep adding better players and depth. This has been the way they’ve approached the draft the past few years. Don’t over pay FA’s look for value then count on your scouts to get you good players.

    • Mo got over paid at $3.7 mil. I think it’s pathetic when a CB that cost a 1st and a 2nd round draft pick couldn’t find one team in the NFL that would give him better than the one year deal he got in Dallas.

    • Mo got over paid at $3.7 mil. I think it’s pathetic when a CB that cost a 1st and a 2nd round draft pick couldn’t find one team in the NFL that would give him better than the one year deal he got in Dallas.