Reads Listens Views 2/22/2013

Friday Sleeper Tip: Cincinnati WR Kenbrell Thompkins

I’m wrapping up my film study for the 2013 Rookie Scouting Portfolio this month. I watch multiple games of almost every player I study and I try to document at least 2-3 of those views for the publication so my readers can have play-by-play notes that shows the work behind the analysis. Yesterday morning, I watched another game of University of Cincinnati runner George Winn and tight end Travis Kelce. It was Thompkins who caught my eye the most – as did his story.

Brown was a sleeper two years ago. His cousin Kenbrell Thompkins is one now. Photo by bmward_2000.
Brown was a sleeper two years ago. Kenbrell Thompkins is one now. How are they related? See below. Photo by bmward_2000.

Thompkins is the cousin of Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown and the brother Kendall, a University of Miami wideout. When Kenbrell saw Kendall earning opportunities to go to college, he decided to ditch his life headed down a path of crime for football. Sports Illustrated’s Michael McKnight does a fine job of reporting Thompkins’ transition from drug dealer to JUCO star, leader, and in my opinion, late-round or UDFA sleeper. 

I’m a fan of Thompkins because he’s not just a fine athlete with quickness, leaping ability, and fluid skill around the ball. The Bearcats receiver clearly works at his craft. I can see it with the way he runs routes. Just like Marvin Jones, he can hold a defender in suspense with his route running and plays bigger than his 190-pound frame indicates.

The practice tape has a pre-Goodell-smackdown quality to it, but it demonstrates a lot of refinement with routes:

  • Sinking hips to generate hard, sudden breaks. 
  • Setting up breaks and releases with the chattering of feet and drumming of arms.
  • The ability to dip the shoulder under contact at the line of scrimmage.
  • Integration of feet and hands to gain a release.
  • Suddenness to double moves.
  • Flat breaks to prevent trailing coverage from undercutting the target.

When the ball arrives, Thompkins is fluid at turning to the ball in tight spaces between a defender and the boundary and extending his arms to catch the ball. This practice compilation shows a lot of what I’ve seen in games – and a little more, because the quarterback play hasn’t been stellar in Cincinnati this year.

Plus, whenever I watch a wide receiver focus on details most prospects don’t address – such as engaging defenders 10-15 yards away from the ball as a blocker with good technique until the whistle blows – it’s a good indication the prospect is serious about getting better and not just leaning on his athleticism. The 2013 class is a deep one, but talent-wise Thompkins is a guy I’d remember if you’re a fantasy owner in a deep league monitoring the summer waiver wire for buzz-worthy candidates. Opportunity is a different story.

RSP Contest Update

If you think of me when you see these three players - among others - you don't need me to say any more. If you don't, perhaps its time to starting downloading the RSP publication every April 1.
If you think of me when you see these three players – among others – you don’t need me to say any more. If you don’t, perhaps its time to starting downloading the RSP publication every April 1.

The Guess the Prospect Contest I announced this week is over. All five of the  2012 Rookie Scouting Portfolio and 2012 Post-Draft Analysis for correct answers were given away as of this morning. The correct answers were:

  • Prospect No.1 – Ron Dayne
  • Prospect No.2 – Vincent Jackson
  • Prospect No.3 – Arian Foster
  • Prospect No.4 – Mark Sanchez
  • Prospect No.5 – Peter Warrick

Congratulations to Frank, Michael, “labradane,” Shanker, and Steve.

To many of you who bought the 2012 RSP, thank you for making it possible to give some of these past issues away to newcomers to the blog. Available for download every April 1 (no joke) for going on eight years, the RSP is an online .PDF publication devoted to the play-by-play study of NFL prospects at the offensive skill positions. The publication has a menu that bookmarks the document so you have two types of analysis. The first portion is a magazine-style, pre-draft analysis of 120-150 pages that includes position rankings, player comparisons, skill set analysis of each position, and sleepers.

The second portion is where I show all my work: between 700-800 pages of grading reports, play-by-play analysis of every player and game I watched, and a glossary that defines every criteria in my grading reports. My readers who want the bottom line love the first half of the book and appreciate the transparency of this section. My hardcore readers love the fact that they can dive as deep as they want into these raw play-by-play notes.

Included with the RSP (since 2012) is a post-draft document between 50-70 pages that comes out a week after the NFL Draft with updated post-draft rankings, tiers, team fit analysis, and fantasy cheat sheet with value analysis (Russell Wilson was calculated as the best value last year). Fantasy owners can’t get enough of it.

The RSP is $19.95 and I donate 10 percent of each sale to Darkness to Light, a non-profit dedicated to training individuals and communities on the prevention of sexual abuse. Past years of publications (2006-2012) are available for $9.95 and I also donate 10 percent of each sale to D2L. You can prepay for the 2013 RSP now.

This Weekend

You can catch me talking NFL Combine and its fantasy football implications on Saturday night from 8:30 pm to 9:00 pm on Bob Harris and Mike Dempsey’s Football Diehards Show (7:00 pm to 10:00 pm). Always a good time with these two. Bob Harris (@footballdiehard) is a must-follow for fantasy football owners. He’s the first winner of the FSWA’s Fantasy Football Writer of the Year in 2005. Harris was “the talent” in the game before fantasy football emerged from the underground.

Football Reads


Views – Part I

Views – Part II

Non-Football Reads, Listens,  and Views – Part III

I don’t get much commentary about these links, but those who read them seem to look forward to this stuff – even when I post events from the real world that are all too real. These links below qualify. Stretching physically, mentally, and emotionally is not a comfortable process. These links will stretch you.

MIDWAY : trailer : a film by Chris Jordan from Midway on Vimeo.

  • Exclusive First Read: ‘Wave’ By Sonali Deraniyagala –  Economist Sonali Deraniyagala lost her husband, parents and two young sons in the terrifying Indian Ocean tsunami of 2004. Wave is her brutal but lyrically written account of the awful moment and the grief-crazed months after, as she learned to live with her almost unbearable losses — and allow herself to remember details of her previous life.
  • The Strong Silent Type: The Contradictions of Being an Introverted Man – I get it. Do you?
  • Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence In The House of God – At the heart of the film is a small group of heroes – Terry Kohut, Gary Smith, Arthur Budzinksi and Bob Bolger. These courageous Deaf men set out to expose the priest who had abused them and sought to protect other children, making their voices heard. Gibney uses the voices of actors Chris Cooper, Ethan Hawke, Jamey Sheridan and John Slattery to tell the stories of men abused by Murphy. However, it is the faces and expressions of the courageous Deaf men that illustrate the indelible effect Murphy continues to have on their lives.

Views – Part IV

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