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Cowboys Draft Target: Virginia Safety Juan Thornhill

NAME: Juan Thornhill

POSITION: Safety

SCHOOL: Virginia

CONFERENCE: ACC

CLASS: Senior

JERSEY: No. 21

RECRUITMENT RATING: 3-star

HT: 6’1″

WT: 195

D.O.B.: N/A

Tackles Tackles Tackles Tackles Tackles Def Int Def Int Def Int Def Int Def Int Fumbles Fumbles Fumbles Fumbles
Year School Conf Class Pos G Solo Ast Tot Loss Sk Int Yds Avg TD PD FR Yds TD FF
2015 Virginia ACC FR S 2 2 0 2 0.0 0.0 0 0 0 0 0 0
2016 Virginia ACC SO S 11 30 15 45 3.0 1.0 3 32 10.7 0 7 0 1
*2017 Virginia ACC JR S 12 47 16 63 4.5 0.5 4 4 1.0 0 12 0 0
*2018 Virginia ACC SR S 13 62 36 98 4.5 0.0 6 141 23.5 0 7 0 0
Career Virginia 141 67 208 12.0 1.5 13 177 13.6 0 26 0 1

Highlights:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HpdpV1Ld46s

Pros:

Juan Thornhill possesses an intriguing skill set that should get him on the field early as a rookie. He projects best as a free safety in the NFL, but his background as a cornerback could cause teams to give him a look there as well. He is a capable of starting at either position, which should only add to his value.

Thornhill shows good range on film and seems to always be in the hip pocket of receivers on vertical shots down the field. Does well in coverage underneath as well. Gets into position to take away lanes. At his best in zone coverage. Has really good instincts and understanding of route concepts. Ball hawk. Has the mentality that he’s the one being targeted on throws and out fights the receiver for the ball.

Possesses good athleticism to make open field tackles. Takes good angles in pursuit and is well-balanced when arriving at the ballcarrier. Has some pop through his pads, but is more of a cut down tackler. Can quickly close the distance and will drive through a runner’s legs to finish. Will fight through contact in the box and shows a good stout anchor at the top of route stems.

Cons:

Juan Thornhill has good, but not elite range and his lack of burst could limit the system he plays in. Because of this he might not be suited to play the single high/deep safety position on a team that plays a lot of Cover-1. This could make him more of a scheme reliant free safety in the NFL.

Shows a little tightness through his hips. This makes him a little slow when opening up and transitioning to deep throws. His ball hawking mentality can sometimes get him in trouble. Needs to show a better understanding of when that is acceptable, because he can hang himself out to dry sometimes. Can be fooled with play-action and bait routes. Needs to show more discipline.

Inconsistent as a tackler. Has a tendency to drop his head and go to low when trying to make a tackle. Needs to improve his aiming point and technique. Needs to also improve attacking blocks near the line of scrimmage. Doesn’t necessarily have a slight frame, but could stand to add some more strength/muscle. It could help him when working in the box.

Cowboys Fit:

Juan Thornhill’s skill set and versatility to fill several roles in the Dallas Cowboys secondary could be too intriguing to pass up, especially if you add in his ball-hawking ability. In Kris Richard’s defense, he could probably start at either safety or cornerback as a rookie. He has the desired height, length, and athleticism Richard desires in his defensive backs, and has played both positions during his time at Virginia. He could continue to do so with the Cowboys.

As a pure safety prospect, he would pair nicely with Xavier Woods, giving Dallas two athletic and rangy safeties on the backend of their defense. He can play deep or in the slot against mismatch tight ends. He’s solid around the line of scrimmage as well, but needs to clean up his attack point as a tackler in order to become more consistent. No matter how you slice it though, he’s an upgrade over Jeff Heath. For the Cowboys to secure his services, they would likely have to take him 58 overall with their second-round draft pick.

What do you think?

Brian Martin

Written by Brian Martin

Level C2/C3 quadriplegic. College graduate with a bachelors degree in sports and health sciences-concentration sports management. Sports enthusiast. Dallas Cowboys fanatic. Lover of life with a glass half-full point of view.

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