49ers make Michigan CB Ambry Thomas a 3rd-round draft pick

Apr 30, 2021 at 8:34 PM--


The San Francisco 49ers selected Michigan cornerback Ambry Thomas with the 39th pick (No. 102 overall) in the third round of the 2021 NFL Draft.

The 49ers acquired this compensatory selection after former defensive coordinator Robert Saleh became the new head coach of the New York Jets. It was awarded as part of the NFL's minority-hiring program.

Thomas registered 38 tackles, three tackles for a loss, three passes defensed, and three interceptions through 12 games as a junior in 2019, per Sports Reference. He has recorded 54 tackles, 3.5 tackles for a loss, three passes defensed, four interceptions, and a forced fumble through his three collegiate seasons. The defender did not play in 2020.

Thomas is from Detroit, MI. He earned a pre-draft grade of 6.00 from NFL.com, which equates to a "developmental traits-based prospect," per the site's 8-point grading scale.

What can fans expect from Thomas on Sundays?

"They can expect a competitor," he told 49ers team reporter Keiana Martin. "From day one, I'm coming to compete. I'm ready to play. I've been playing since I was six, and I've been waiting on this moment all my life. I'm just ready to go and ready to contribute to the team any way I can."

NFL.com projected Thomas to be a fourth-round draft pick.

Below is the NFL.com draft profile bio on Thomas:

The top-100 recruit from Detroit's Martin Luther King Jr. High School posted 14 receiving TDs, one punt return TD, one kick return TD, three interceptions and 14 pass breakups as a prep senior. He played in all 13 games as a reserve his true freshman year, making seven tackles and recovering two fumbles. Thomas played in 13 games in 2018 (nine tackles, one interception), and also saw playing time as a receiver in two contests and returned a kickoff 99 yards for a TD against Notre Dame. Thomas beat the odds to play in the 2019 season despite losing 35 pounds from a bout with colitis during the summer. He played very well, in fact, earning third-team All-Big Ten and Michigan Defensive Skill Player of the Year accolades with 38 tackles, three for loss, three interceptions, four pass breakups and two fumble recoveries in 13 starts. Thomas opted out of the 2020 season and accepted an invitation to the Senior Bowl. -- by Chad Reuter

Lance Zierlein of NFL.com, who compares Thomas to Kendall Fuller, wrote the following about Thomas within his scouting report:

Feisty press-man cornerback who plays the role of nuisance underneath. Plays with good patience and feel for mirroring the release and gets hands on his target within the first five yards. Thomas tends to be physical in coverage, which sometimes leads to penalties. He's a former high school receiver with natural tracking and ball skills. He does a solid job of crowding opponents down the field. He's not as long or explosive as teams might like outside and might lack the twitch to handle certain slot receivers as a nickel. Thomas plays with above-average awareness and consistency, though, and he's a very willing and capable tackler who can also play on special teams. His best fit could be as a future starting nickel back for a zone-heavy cover unit.

Kyle Crabbs of The Draft Network wrote the following about Thomas within his scouting report:

Ambry Thomas projects as a potential starting cornerback for an NFL franchise. You certainly wish you had that chance to observe Thomas play in 2020, but the Michigan product opted out before the start of the season amid the uncertainties of the Big Ten season and the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Thomas was most effective in coverage playing in press and disrupting route releases inside the contact window—he's a physical player who does well when able to get his hands on the receiver and upset the timing of patterns. Thomas also flashes quite a bit in shallow spaces as a flat defender in zone coverage; showcasing good awareness of plays developing underneath to drive back to the football. Thomas' ceiling in the draft will be directly tied to how comfortable teams are with a "redshirt" 2020 season and him standing on his tape from the previous year.

Pro Football Focus wrote the following about Thomas:

Thomas is quite easily one of the biggest unknowns in the entire cornerback class — for several reasons. The first is because we haven't seen him since 2019 after opting out this year; the second is because he only saw 401 coverage snaps and 57 targets in the three years he was at Michigan. In a Michigan scheme that's been very favorable for their corners in the past, Thomas never quite played as fast as his reported athleticism. He allowed 20-plus-yard catches in six of his 13 games in 2019, while Lavert Hill allowed three on the other side.

Dane Brugler of The Athletic wrote the following about Thomas:

A one-year starter at Michigan, Thomas was the right cornerback in former defensive coordinator Don Brown's press-heavy scheme, occasionally seeing snaps in zone or inside. He doesn't have an extensive defensive resume from Ann Arbor, but he was effective as a first-year starter in 2019, overcoming a serious illness and allowing one touchdown and a 56.3% passer rating when targeted. Thomas competes with the requisite mental and physical toughness to survive on an island at every level of the field. While he stays controlled in his transition, he must do a better job relying on his fundamentals and protecting vs. inside releases/routes. Overall, Thomas relies more on his physical nature than seasoned technique, but his athleticism and competitive mentality are strong selling points. He projects as a bump-and-run NFL corner with starting upside.

Measurables


Height: 6-0
Weight: 183 lbs.
Arm length: 32.25 inches
Hand length: 8.625 inches

Personal


  • Attended Martin Luther King (Detroit, MI) HS where he led the team to consecutive Michigan Division 2 state championships in 2015 and 2016, including a 12-2 overall record during his senior year in 2016.
  • Son of Jermaine and Carmen Thomas
  • Born Ambry Thomas (9/9/99) in Detroit, MI.

Other Notes


  • After dreaming of playing together in high school, cousin Jaylen Kelly Powell joined Thomas at Michigan to be teammates on the Wolverines squad. "We've been playing with each other all our life," Thomas said of Powell. "In Little League, we played Detroit Dolphins together. We were supposed to play at the same high school together, which was (Martin Luther) King, but he went to Cass (Technical). Every time I play him I act like I don't know him."
  • Won two state championships at Martin Luther King (Detroit, MI) HS, which he and his teammates cite as honoring his late high school coach, Dale Harvel.

College Statistics
Year School Class G Solo Ast Tot Loss Sk Int
2017 Michigan FR 11 6 1 7 0.5 0 --
2018 Michigan SO 11 7 2 9 0 0 1
2019 Michigan JR 12 30 8 38 3 0 3
2020 Michigan SR -- -- -- -- -- --
Total Michigan 43 11 54 3.5 0 4


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