Football.com - everything football

Kenbrell Thompkins: Don't Sleep Too Long On Him

By



With how fast Thompkins' stock is rising, you'll have to move fast in drafts to secure him. Photo by Elsa/Getty Images
With how fast Thompkins' stock is rising, you'll have to move fast in drafts to secure him. Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

There had been plenty of speculation on who would be starting opposite WR Danny Amendola since the New England Patriots signed him back in March. Then at the NFL Draft, the Patriots selected wide receivers Aaron Dobson and Josh Boyce, and most analysts and fans suspected that they would be the ones competing and earning the spot on the depth chart. Since preseason began, things started to shake out and WR Kenbrell Thompkins - an undrafted free agent signee - began getting reps with the first team offense, and he has quickly gained the trust of QB Tom Brady. (Here are the 2012 season statistics of each receiver.)

Player Name

School Name

Round Drafted

Receptions

Yards

Average

TDs

Aaron Dobson

Marshall University

2

57

679

11.9

3

Josh Boyce

Texas Christian University

4

66

891

13.5

7

Kenbrell Thompkins

University of Cincinnati

UFA

34

541

15.9

2

Many undrafted free agents end up on the practice squad and a few of those will work their way onto an NFL roster, but fewer will come out of preseason with a starting job, and that is what Thompkins is going to do. Thompkins only played two seasons at the University of Cincinnati after playing two seasons at a junior college, while having to sit the 2010 season after backing out of his commitment to play at the University of Tennessee, when coach Lane Kiffin left the program. He must have shown enough in those two seasons at U of C, along with his combine workout to have made head coach Bill Belichick interested enough to sign him, and he’s shown that it was a good decision over the past three preseason games. (Here's a look at the Patriots receivers over the past three preseason games.)

Player Name

Receptions

Yards

Average

TDs

Games

Kenbrell Thompkins

13

142

10.9

0

3

Julian Edelman

10

75

7.5

0

3

Aaron Dobson

8

115

14.4

0

3

Danny Amendola

7

77

11.0

1

2

Josh Boyce

5

27

5.4

0

3

Thompkins has been useful as both an outside threat and in the slot position, and that versatility has been helpful for him to move ahead of teammate Aaron Dobson on the depth chart. He blocks defenders well in the run game, which means that coach Belichick will have no worries leaving him on the field in running situations. For anyone, playing in a high tempo offense and being on the field most often is always beneficial to fantasy value. He may still be considered a sleeper in fantasy drafts, but the proverbial cat is out of the bag and his average draft position is already on the rise. Thompkins is a talented receiver with NFL bloodlines (his cousin is Steelers WR Antonio Brown) on a team with a talented quarterback, and is fortunate enough to be there during an overhaul of the receiving corps. He is someone you need to target in the later part of drafts, and could be a very solid WR3 option.