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DeAndre Thompkins Could Become A Valuable Playmaker In The NFL

After not receiving an invitation to the 2019 NFL Combine, many thought DeAndre Thompkins’ chances of hearing his name called at the NFL Draft were slim to none. The Nittany Lion wide receiver may have changed the minds of his doubters with a strong pro day performance last month, though.

Thompkins lit up the stat sheet at Holuba Hall in front of several NFL scouts, running a 4.33-second 40-yard dash that would’ve tied him for third among receivers at the Combine. The wide receiver also completed the three-cone drill in 7.02 seconds.

Despite his NFL-level speed and agility, dropped passes were an issue for Thompkins throughout his career at Penn State. The North Carolina native didn’t have any drops at his pro day, but it’s unclear whether or not his solid performance convinced teams that he is a consistently reliable pass catcher.

Thompkins stands at 5′ 11″ and weighs in at about 190 pounds, but what he lacks in size he makes up for with a strong playmaking ability. He lined up in the slot and outside as a wide receiver as a Nittany Lion, and was Penn State’s starting punt returner before he started to split time with KJ Hamler in 2018.

One aspect of Thompkins’ game that may separate him from other receivers in this year’s draft class is his versatility. In his four year career as a Nittany Lion, Thompkins returned 66 punts for an average of 10.2 yards per return, and even took two of them back for touchdowns. He’s well aware that his ability as a special teams player could make him an attractive addition in the eyes of many NFL teams.

“I’ve heard both [from NFL teams],” Thompkins said at his pro day. “The more versatile you are, the more they like you, and the more places they can put you, which leads to more opportunities. I think they really take that into consideration.”

Thompkins’ first career punt return touchdown took place in a game against Akron in 2017, it was the first for any Nittany Lion since Derrick Williams did so in 2008.

The speedy play-maker was a mainstay for Penn State’s receiving corps for his career in Happy Valley, appearing in 52 games with at least one touchdown in each of his four seasons. Thompkins finished with nine total touchdowns and 1,245 receiving yards through his collegiate career.

There’s no question Thompkins has great agility, route-running skills, and playmaking ability. But his issues with dropped passes and general inconsistency may make it hard for him to crack into the draft. Despite that, his sheer athleticism and well-documented special teams talent would make him a valuable addition to any NFL roster, so he’ll likely ink a pro deal in the days following the draft.

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About the Author

Will Pegler

Will is a senior majoring in digital and print journalism and is an associate editor for Onward State. He is from Darien, Connecticut and is a lifelong Penn State football fan. He loves a good 80's comedy movie, Peaky Blinders, The Office, and the New York Yankees and Giants. You can catch some of his ridiculous sports takes on his Twitter @gritdude and yell at him on his email [email protected]

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