The Cincinnati Bengals are doing their due diligence on defensive backs projected to be drafted late in the draft or picked up in undrafted free agency. One player the team already met with is Southern Utah’s Josh Thornton.
The Bengals met with him in March and had defensive backs coach Kevin Coyle work him out. In addition to that, with just more than one week to go before the draft, the Bengals are hosting Thornton in Cincinnati for a pre-draft visit on Wednesday, per NFL Draft Diamonds.
A projected seventh round pick or undrafted free agent, Thornton had 8 tackles and 3 interceptions in 2016 for the Thunderbirds, but only played in 6 games. The 5-foot-10, 180 pound cornerback appeared in all 12 games in 2015 and had 32 tackles including 2 for loss and totaled 2 interceptions.
Thornton played in this year's NFLPA Collegiate Bowl and snagged an interception in the game. The Bengals have heavily recruited at the NFLPA Bowl in recent years with players such as Jake Kumerow, Mario Alford, Alonzo Russell and Terrell Watson playing in the game in 2015 and 2016, all of whom spent time on the Bengals’ roster or practice squad.
“First thing they say is, ‘You’re a small school guy,’” Thornton said at his pro day via The Spectrum. “You got to make sure you make a name for yourself.”
“They had me do a lot of reaction stuff,” Thornton said of the 17 scouts who attended his pro day. “I think a lot of teams will have me do private workouts, so they can get more in depth with some of the drills they want to see.”
He ran a 4.42 40-yard dash time, registered 16 reps on the bench press, had a 32 1/2" vertical jump, 9'1" broad jump, 4.19 second 20-yard shuttle and 6.94 second 3-cone drill, per NFL Draft Scout. (Herosports.com has him running a significantly faster 4.37 second 40-yard time.)
If Thornton impresses the Bengals on Wednesday, he could be in contention for one of the Bengals’ two seventh round picks, or, become a priority undrafted free agent right after the draft. The Bengals often use up the last of their 30 official team visits on players they want to target in undrafted free agency, so it wouldn’t be surprising if that was the case here.