NFL Draft

2021 NFL Draft Player Profiles: Michigan CB Ambry Thomas

From now until the 2021 NFL Draft takes place, we hope to showcase as many prospects as possible and examine both their strengths and weaknesses. Most of these profiles will feature individuals that the Pittsburgh Steelers are likely to have an interest in, while a few others will be top-ranked players. If there is a player you would like us to analyze, let us know in the comments below.

#1 Ambry Thomas/CB/Michigan/6’0”, 183 Lbs

The Good

-Sound press coverage defender that can squeeze receivers off of routes
-Good overall burst to close on throws in front of him
-Strong initial punch to disrupt receiver’s timing off the line of scrimmage
-Intriguing length and impressive leaping ability to make plays on the ball
-Possesses man and zone traits and could slide into slot at the next level
-Plenty of special teams experience and has kick return appeal

The Bad

-Can be a bit overeager in his initial punch, leaving himself off balance and in recovery mode early
-Needs to develop more functional strength at the next level to make a full impact as a run defender
-Only one true year as a starter and was rarely tested in coverage
-Opted out of 2020 season and hasn’t played real football in over one calendar year
-Tends to lose feel for receiver when turning head back to QB


-Played in 39 career games with Michigan, starting 13 games
-Named Third Team All-Big Ten in 2019 by coaches, honorable mention by media
-Finished career with 54 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss, 4 interceptions, 9 pass breakups, 1 forced fumble and 5 fumble recoveries
-Added 39 career kick returns for 808 yards and 1 touchdown, a 99-yard return against Notre Dame in 2018
-Named Michigan’s Defensive Skill Player of the Year in 2019

Tape Breakdown

When it comes to smaller corners that play bigger than their height and weight, few stand out more than Michigan’s Ambry Thomas.

Though Thomas opted out of the 2020 season and seems mostly forgotten about heading into the 2021 NFL Draft, Thomas has man and zone appeal and can play inside and outside at the next level, thanks to his length, physicality and overall speed.

With his length, Thomas loves to get his hands on guys early in routes, bump them off their target and disrupt timing, which often led to Thomas making plays down the field.


Here against Michigan State in 2019, Thomas gets his hands on the Spartans’ receiver early on, squeezing him to the sideline to disrupt timing and take away his runway on the go route.

As he squeezes him to the sideline, Thomas is able to stay in his hip pocket and remain connected while getting his head around, eventually making a play on the football for the interception.


Early on in the 2019 season against Middle Tennessee State, Thomas does a great job reading the QB while staying in the receiver’s hip pocket, driving on the throw for the pick.

His burst downhill is quite noticeable here, as is his length to stretch out and highpoint the football for the interception.


Though I do believe his overall football IQ is lacking from a defensive standpoint due to the limited experience, this rep against Notre Dame was quite impressive.

Thomas does a great job passing current Steeler Chase Claypool off inside, flipping his hips afterwards to get back out into the flat to take the running back for the short gain. He shows a good feel here for what the Fighting Irish were trying to do.


Against Illinois, Thomas again flashed his length, skying to bat throw away while in trail technique.

He has good overall body control to contort in the air and get his hands on this football late.


In the slot here against Indiana, Thomas again shows his ability to squeeze receivers to the boundary and use the chalk as another defender.

By squeezing the slot receiver to the boundary, Thomas is able to eliminate any chance of a completion from the Hoosiers’ QB.


Like I said earlier, he has some serious kick return appeal for the NFL. Nearly 40 career returns at Michigan should have him seeing the field in the NFL right away on special teams.

He showed good burst and overall contact balance on this return against Notre Dame in 2018, returning it 99 yards for the score.

Overall, while I do have some concerns about his ability to play downhill against the run with his functional strength, and his opting out of the 2020 season losing a key year of development, I think Thomas’ 2019 film was good enough to get him drafted early on Day 3 and hang on with a team as a developmental No. 4 corner with real special teams appeal.

Projection: Early Day 3

Games Watched: Middle Tennessee State (2019), Wisconsin (2019), Iowa (2019), Illinois (2019), Penn State (2019), Michigan State (2019), Notre Dame (2019), Ohio State (2019), Alabama (2019)

Previous 2021 NFL Draft Player Profiles
OC Drake Jackson OC Landon Dickerson TE Pat Freiermuth RB Javonte Williams
CB Patrick Surtain II OG Deonte Brown TE Kylen Granson TE Brevin Jordan
OL Trey Smith OT Adrian Ealy CB Jaycee Horn CB Kary Vincent Jr.
RB Elijah Mitchell OT Alex Leatherwood TE Hunter Long RB Najee Harris
CB Tyson Campbell LB Zaven Collins DB Greg Newsome TE Tony Poljan
DL Christian Barmore RB Kenneth Gainwell OT Rashawn Slater WR Kadarius Toney
RB Michael Carter EDGE Joe Tryon CB Thomas Graham Jr. WR Amari Rodgers
RB Demetric Felton C Creed Humphrey C Trey Hill LB Jabril Cox
CB Asante Samuel Jr. S Joshuah Bledsoe OT Samuel Cosmi S Trevon Moehrig
RB Chuba Hubbard S James Wiggins LB Garret Wallow RB Kylin Hill
WR Dazz Newsome RB Khalil Herbert CB Shaun Wade WR Tylan Wallace
RB Rhamondre Stevenson CB Camryn Bynum WR Amon-Ra St. Brown WR Shi Smith
OT Liam Eichenberg EDGE Patrick Jones DT Alim McNeill OT Christian Darrisaw
QB Kyle Trask RB Jermar Jefferson QB Trey Lance OT Jaylen Mayfield
OT Teven Jenkins TE Kenny Yeboah LB Chazz Surratt CB Tre Brown
QB Kellen Mond LB Nick Bolton OL Brady Christensen DL Dayvion Nixon
CB Elijah Molden QB Mac Jones EDGE Rashad Weaver LB Cameron McGrone
RB Trey Sermon LB Pete Werner LB Tony Fields TE Luke Farrell
RB Jaret Patterson LB Dylan Moses TE Kyle Pitts LB Jamin Davis
TE Tommy Tremble QB Jamie Newman TE Shaun Beyer EDGE Azeez Ojulari
QB KJ Costello CB Caleb Farley DB Richie Grant OT Tommy Doyle
OG Jackson Carman WR Ihmir Smith-Marsette LB Baron Browning WR Terrace Marshall
LB/S JaCoby Stevens OC Josh Myers S Hamsah Nasirildeen OT Dillon Radunz
LB Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah WR Anthony Schwartz S Talanoa Hufanga WR Sage Surratt
WR Dyami Brown WR Elijah Moore OT Jaylon Moore WR Seth Williams
NT Forrest Merrill WR Cornell Powell WR Rondale Moore EDGE Jaelan Phillips
S Divine Deablo WR Rashod Bateman EDGE Elerson Smith C Jimmy Morrissey
RB Larry Rountree C/G Quinn Meinerz CB Benjamin St-Juste OT Spencer Brown
EDGE Daelin Hayes WR Tamorrion Terry DL Marvin Wilson OT Walker Little
CB Aaron Robinson WR D’Wayne Eskridge EDGE Joseph Ossai EDGE Quincy Roche
OT Alijah Vera-Tucker WR Tutu Atwell TE Pro Wells RB Pooka Williams
EDGE William Bradley-King S Ar’Darius Washington EDGE Joshua Kaindoh WR Jonathan Adams
DB Trill Williams QB Davis Mills EDGE Greg Rousseau  WR Cade Johnson
ILB K.J. Britt OG Aaron Banks DL Jay Tufele OG Wyatt Davis
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DL Tommy Togiai EDGE Ronnie Perkins TE Tre McKitty EDGE Victor Dimukeje
CB Robert Rochell OT Stone Forsythe EDGE Janarius Robinson DL Tyler Shelvin
CB Rodarius Williams WR Jaelon Darden WR Nico Collins DL Levi Onwuzurike
EDGE Carlos Basham Jr. TE Quintin Morris LB Monty Rice LB Derrick Barnes
EDGE Raymond Johnson III CB Ifeatu Melifonwu OL Kendrick Green OT D’Ante Smith
WR Jalen Camp RB Javian Hawkins DL Jaylen Twyman TE Matt Bushman
OL David Moore WR Josh Imatorbhebe
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