The 2016 NFL Draft has many stories to tell and how risk averse you are will determine whether former NC State runner, Shadrach Thornton, should be on your library wish list. My friend, Ryan Berger aka @TheFFGhost suggested that I take a look at this unique runner. Game film is lacking with only a 2014 Central Florida contest and a nine-minute college highlight reel available to review. I thought I saw enough to make some preliminary observations about the attributes and skills he brings to the next level. Here are my thoughts:
RB-Shadrach Thornton, NC State 6′ 217 lbs.
Cons: This young man got suspended three different times; these included a physical altercation with his girlfriend and hitting a pedestrian with a moped, then leaving the scene. The moped incident was NC State’s final straw as they kicked him off the team. Thornton runs with inconsistent pad level, getting too high, and lets defenders into his body too much. This leaves him open to more injuries and an increased chance of fumbling the ball. The back reminds me at times of the old Sega video game hero, Sonic the Hedgehog. What I mean is that he sprints with reckless abandon, smashing into things without much control or thought. He fought the ball into his hands too much for my liking on passing plays. It’s also concerning that since Thornton hasn’t played since September, he ran an abysmal 4.75 40-yard dash and put up 12 reps in the bench press. What was he doing with his time away from the team?
Pros: Despite his poor running form, the back has strong powerful legs that keep churning, fighting for extra yardage while falling forward. Thornton sees the entire field well, and finds the cutback lane to put defenders on their heels. He uses his loose hips, quick feet, spins, stiff-arms, hurdles, head fakes, and shoulder shakes to get free in the open field (where he looks amazing). The Wolf pack would direct snap the ball to him near the goal line to take advantage of his lateral agility (had great three cone and 20 yard shuttle times in Indy) and thirst for hitting pay dirt. Thornton anchors himself quite well as a pass blocker. When he isn’t fighting the ball, the runner grabs the pigskin in stride making defenders miss in the open field.
Overall thoughts: Thornton is a big dynasty fantasy wildcard. Other backs with similar styles, Jason Snelling and Brandon Jacobs, did not have huge amounts of dependable fantasy production for more than a season or two. Depending on the location, he might be worth risking on a late round rookie pick, especially leagues with taxi squads.
Thanks for reading!
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