Buffalo Bills wide receiver Deonte Thompson has been all over the highlight reels this past week. It started on Friday with a big 51-yard touchdown reception from E.J. Manuel in the first preseason game against the Carolina Panthers.
Next it was Thompson shaking a Cleveland Browns defender out of his shoes during a joint practice the teams held at St. John Fisher College. The recent spotlight Deonte’s thrust himself into surely helps his case of making an active roster which is a well deserved opportunity given the veteran’s performance so far this summer.
After being picked up off the Baltimore Ravens practice squad this offseason, the fourth-year wide receiver has been consistently turning heads and making plays at Buffalo’s training camp. With that Thompson’s been receiving increased repetitions with the first-team offense after a rash of injuries has held Sammy Watkins, Percy Harvin and Robert Woods out. He’ll get some more meaningful playing time on Thursday against Cleveland and is an interesting candidate for one of Buffalo’s final roster spots.
-6 ft 0 in. and 205 pounds
-4.31s 40-yard dash
-36.5 inch vertical jump
-Turned 26 this past February
-UDFA from the University of Florida where he also ran track & field
-Played for Baltimore Ravens from 2012-14 (SB XLVII Ring)
-Recorded 15 receptions for 147 yards in 13 NFL games
-Good size, excellent speed and improved hands
-“Gifted” route-runner with fluid hips and ability to change direction quickly
-Versatility to return kicks/punts
Checking out Deonte Thompson’s size and speed makes it hard to believe he went undrafted back in 2012. Old scouting reports have alluded to a lackluster college career statistically and as being known for dropping passes among folks in the Gator Nation. Whatever the exact reason was he seems to have shaken that stigma and now catches just about everything thrown his way.
Before injuries derailed his 2013 season the speedy receiver was battling for the Ravens number two job behind Torrey Smith. Despite missing out on that chance and spending most of last year on Baltimore’s practice squad, the receiver definitely left an impression on one of his coaches.
Former Ravens OC and current Detroit Lions HC Jim Caldwell had this to say about Deonte:
“[Thompson]’s a gifted route-runner, and he is getting better,” Caldwell said to the Baltimore Sun. “He understands how to sink his hips. He can do a great job of changing direction. He has speed, can catch the ball, and he’s tough. I think that’s a pretty good blend. He’s a young guy, so we will see.”
Besides the recent onslaught of rookie pass-catchers producing right away, receivers usually take a season or two to adjust and learn the nuances of playing the position at the pro level. Now that Thompson’s entering his fourth year in the league he seems to be hitting his stride at the right time.
With more repetitions on the field due to player injuries, he’s been able to show Buffalo’s coaching staff why they invited him to camp. That would include burning defensive backs deep or over the middle and becoming a trustworthy outlet for his quarterbacks. In fact out of all the fringe receivers that are fighting for a roster spot like Chris Hogan, Marquise Goodwin, Andre Davis and Dezmin Lewis, Thompson has consistently outperformed them all.
He still has alot of work to do as the Bills came into camp with a deep wide receiver corps making Deonte Thompson a long shot to make the team. Despite that reality the receiver has taken advantage of his chances and now has an even bigger opportunity on Thursday night when the Buffalo faces off against the Cleveland Browns.
There’s still plenty of time left in the competition and Thompson needs to play well these next couple games, but Doug Whaley and the front office may have found themselves another world-class speedster to contribute to the team.