2017 Season Countdown: #41 Ambry Thomas

2017 Season Countdown: #41 Ambry Thomas


July 22, 2017

Ambry Thomas (image via Twitter)

Name: Ambry Thomas
Height: 5’11”
Weight: 171 lbs.
High school: Detroit (MI) King
Position: Cornerback
Class: Freshman
Jersey number: #1
Last year: Thomas was a senior in high school. He made 37 catches for 902 yards.
TTB Rating: 90

Thomas was a highly sought after recruit within the State of Michigan, but for a long time, it seemed like he was heading out of the region. He made some noise early about going down to SEC country or the west coast, and they seemed like very real possibilities. I’ve had my eye on Thomas for a few years, because he’s lightning fast and played like the fastest player in the state since he was a sophomore. Michigan was able to reel him in a year after landing fellow King alum Lavert Hill, and he’s one of the top few prizes in the 2017 class.

Thomas enrolled in January and spent the spring looking like a lanky tenth grader out on the field. Even the listed weight of 171 lbs. might have been stretching it, so he needs some time in the weight room. Will he have a chance to spend enough time in the weight room before he needs to see the field? Doubtful. Michigan will probably need him to play slot corner throughout this season in nickel and dime situations, and he could be a key backup on the outside. He’s a liability in run support, but he has speed and playmaking ability on third down. The Wolverines lost three cornerbacks from the 2017 class, and nobody has put a stranglehold on any of those spots. Thomas also offers some upside as a punt or kick returner, and potentially as a wide receiver. I don’t think Thomas will be a full-time starter this year, but he may be able to stake his claim for 2018 on the outside over the likes of Hill, David Long, Keith Washington, and others.

Prediction: Nickel corner, special teamer

24 comments

  1. Comments: 407
    Joined: 1/19/2016
    je93
    Jul 22, 2017 at 1:27 PM

    So even with Hill, Long, and Washington available and likely to contribute more, you expect Thomas to get a lot of PT?

    I think he’ll be first in during garbage time like Hill was last year, but until he can bulk up a bit, there are others who can do what he does (plus help out against the run)

    Can Thomas return Kicks or Punts? Sure he’s a Freshman, but he’s a fast & athletic one

    • Comments: 1990
      Joined: 7/13/2015
      Jul 22, 2017 at 1:32 PM

      I think Thomas will play a pretty good bit. Keep in mind that this staff hasn’t done a whole lot of moving guys inside to slot corner. You’re either an inside guy or an outside guy. I think Thomas will be a nickel corner, and Hill, Long, and Washington are outside guys. The one guy to be concerned with in the slot is Brandon Watson. But Hill and Long have both had injury issues over the past year or so, so Watson might be needed on the outside rather than being a full-time option at nickel.

      I see Thomas as a kickoff returner because he has straight-line speed, but not a ton of moves in a phone booth.

      • Comments: 2772
        Joined: 8/11/2015
        Lanknows
        Jul 23, 2017 at 11:07 AM

        Can you expand on this?

        Who have been the “inside guys” and “outside guys” the last couple years?

        From what I’ve seen the opposite is true. The best CBs play, period.

        • Comments: 2772
          Joined: 8/11/2015
          Lanknows
          Jul 23, 2017 at 11:16 AM

          My impression: Michigan’s had 4 top CBs the last 2 years – Stribling/Lewis/Clark/Peppers. They’ve used them ahead of any other options. Peppers was more of an ‘inside guy’ but did both. When he got hurt they folded Lewis inside. Stribling played some slot too in dime packages. I think Clark was the only guy who was purely outside, but I may have missed some with him too.

          The other guys who have played meaningful snaps at CB (Hill -outside and Watson – inside) have fit the paradigm but not really played enough to draw meaningful conclusions. Their roles were mostly dime package support where I think Michigan was straining to find depth.

          • Comments: 123
            Joined: 9/15/2015
            ragingbull
            Jul 23, 2017 at 12:35 PM

            agreed on the inside/outside comment, for the most part. the staff mostly just rolled with the personnel they had and what those guys did best…leave clark and stribling outside in press man, move lewis wherever bc he could do it all (though hes likely to focus on slot CB in pros) and utilize peppers and safeties a good bit over the slot.
            itll be interesting to see what they do moving forward though given the types of players theyre recruiting.

            • Comments: 2772
              Joined: 8/11/2015
              Lanknows
              Jul 23, 2017 at 2:01 PM

              more of the same. the best players will play, regardless of the ‘slot’ label.

  2. Comments: 88
    Joined: 9/13/2015
    michymich
    Jul 22, 2017 at 3:32 PM

    It is impossible in my opinion not to watch his film and think of anybody other than Steve Breaston. He is way too small to play the run at corner. Is he even capable of bulking up? Doesn’t have the body type to play bigger. Can anyone say Drake Harris?

    Thomas at best is a specialty nickel back in obvious passing downs. I see him as a potentially great ST’s returner and a wr. In fact, he reminds me of someone who can excel like both Breaston and Howard.

    Do you think Desmond Howard would have been anything other than a 3rd string corner?

    • Comments: 407
      Joined: 1/19/2016
      je93
      Jul 22, 2017 at 3:35 PM

      He’s bigger than Jourdan Lewis & Blake Countess, and they seemed to do well after a year of S&C

      • Comments: 88
        Joined: 9/13/2015
        michymich
        Jul 22, 2017 at 3:43 PM

        Is he actually bigger than those two? I don’t see a guy who is 171 lbs. Look at Thomas and you see those skinny legs like Breaston or AC. Neither one of those guys could bulk up whereas Lewis (if I recall) was compact.

        I just don’t see it. I think you are right that someone can bulk up but there are plenty of guys who can’t bulk up.

        • Comments: 407
          Joined: 1/19/2016
          je93
          Jul 22, 2017 at 4:21 PM

          As a Corner, I don’t think he needs to “bulk” up. A little more size would be great, but as long as he gets stronger and and isn’t afraid to tackle

        • Comments: 857
          Joined: 8/13/2015
          Roanman
          Jul 22, 2017 at 5:11 PM

          Lewis came in as a senior at 186. He wasn’t much bigger than Thomas coming in and playing as a freshman.

          Still, I’d rather not have anyone out there on D at 171 lbs.

          If he can return kicks, let him have at it.

    • Painter Smurf
      Comments: 191
      Joined: 8/12/2015
      Painter Smurf
      Jul 23, 2017 at 12:01 AM

      No comparison with Drake Harris. Harris was taken based on measurables and potential – not even sure he played his senior year.

      Thomas on the other hand was a highly productive two way player, who also happened to light it up at the Nike Opening camp. Thomas certainly is on the light side, but the guy is a has earned his stud status.

      • Comments: 2772
        Joined: 8/11/2015
        Lanknows
        Jul 23, 2017 at 11:20 AM

        A) Every player is recruited for their potential.

        B) Harris has the MI HS record for a receiving yards in a season.

        • Painter Smurf
          Comments: 191
          Joined: 8/12/2015
          Painter Smurf
          Jul 23, 2017 at 2:30 PM

          So you are saying that his comparison to Harris makes sense? I was responding to a thread above, but I misplaced it. This is why/how you habitually blow up threads… you don’t follow the flow of the thread, you completely lose the thread and reply to a response out of context.

          Is the comparison of Harris to Thomas sensible? Does it make sense to compare Thomas to both Harris (bust) and Breaston (NFL player) and expect to make a coherent point?

          • Comments: 2772
            Joined: 8/11/2015
            Lanknows
            Jul 23, 2017 at 3:13 PM

            Youre posting in the wrong place…but I’m blowing up the thread? OK.

            Harris was a highly productive HS player. You implied otherwise.

  3. Comments: 88
    Joined: 9/13/2015
    michymich
    Jul 22, 2017 at 5:08 PM

    He could definitely play corner in a spread conference but with teams like Wiscy, MSU, OSU and PSU who like to run the ball then he is going to be picked on. We will see.

    Didn’t see any highlights of hits/tackles.

    • Painter Smurf
      Comments: 191
      Joined: 8/12/2015
      Painter Smurf
      Jul 22, 2017 at 11:52 PM

      Being a good tackler is nice for a CB, but not a must for getting on the field. Look at Stribling, he was frequently a liability against the run. A bigger hurdle for Thomas may be jamming big WR’s at the line. But if he plays nickel this year, he may not have to jam a ton.

      • Comments: 2772
        Joined: 8/11/2015
        Lanknows
        Jul 23, 2017 at 11:24 AM

        Michigan had a top 5 defense against the run last year. Stribling started every game. If he was a liability he would have been exploited. Ohio State was the a top 5 rushing team last year – they score 10 points on Michigan/Stribling in regulation.

        • Comments: 123
          Joined: 9/15/2015
          ragingbull
          Jul 23, 2017 at 12:07 PM

          i assumed he meant stribling played weak vs the run his first few years. and thats confirmed by the staff – they mentioned several times he needs to play more physical and handle his business. which he ended up doing. bc he absolutely stepped up. last year stribling didnt play well just in coverage but also vs the run. he wasnt lewis (who proved to be one of the better tacklers on the team) but stribling no doubt upped his game.

          just guessing that poster meant prior to last year though maybe he meant different after seeing something different

          • Comments: 1990
            Joined: 7/13/2015
            Jul 23, 2017 at 1:54 PM

            Stribling was never good vs. the run, and he didn’t step it up last year, either. He helped to allow big runs against UCF and MSU, just to name two. His coaches talked about him needing to be more physical, and Pro Football Focus gave him a terrible grade in run support. On top of that, he was supposedly one of the top cover guys in the country…so why wouldn’t he get drafted if there weren’t some glaring deficiencies in his game?

          • Painter Smurf
            Comments: 191
            Joined: 8/12/2015
            Painter Smurf
            Jul 23, 2017 at 2:36 PM

            No, Stribling was not a physical run defender period. He was sub-par most of the time, and awful in a few games. Clark was clearly a better/legit run defender, and yet the coaches showed a slight favoritism to Stribling.

            All this to say that if Thomas is a really good cover guy, he will play even if he is a threat to get roughed up in the run game.

  4. Comments: 2772
    Joined: 8/11/2015
    Lanknows
    Jul 23, 2017 at 11:06 AM

    I think this is pretty dead-on as far as Thomas’ optimal use in 2017. The issue is that Michigan might need him to do much more.

    As Thunder as said in other posts, there’s reason to believe the presumed starters (Long/Hill) won’t end up the starters by seasons end. While there are other options (St. Juste, Washington, Watson) none of them can be counted on at this point. In such an open field, Thomas’ talent could win out.

  5. Comments: 2772
    Joined: 8/11/2015
    Lanknows
    Jul 23, 2017 at 2:00 PM

    Stribling was bad against the run. But Smurf is exaggerating greatly calling him a “frequently a liability”.

    • Painter Smurf
      Comments: 191
      Joined: 8/12/2015
      Painter Smurf
      Jul 23, 2017 at 2:43 PM

      Bad vs. frequent liability… let’s have a long debate-thread about the difference of those two labels, and about which one is more accurate!

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