Brandon Thompson turning heads at Senior Bowl; Andre Branch, Chad Diehl sidelined

The Clemson Sports Blog

Clemson Tigers defensive tackle Brandon Thompson (98) tackles Boston College Eagles running back Rolandan Finch (28) in the third quarter.

Photo by Nathan Gray

Clemson Tigers defensive tackle Brandon Thompson (98) tackles Boston College Eagles running back Rolandan Finch (28) in the third quarter.

For Clemson’s Brandon Thompson, Senior Bowl practice week is a proving ground.

Repeatedly throughout the 2011 season, Dabo Swinney made the case for Thompson being included in any conversation about who’s the best defensive tackle in the nation.

Now Thompson, who measured 6-2, 311 during his Senior Bowl weigh-in Sunday at Mobile, AL, has a chance to prove Swinney’s point as he performs in front of scouts from every pro team.

“It’s a great opportunity to be able to come out and compete against the best at every position,” Thompson told FoxSportsNet. “There’s a lot of great talent on the defensive line.

“I’ve talked to so many teams. This is a blessing. It’s what I’ve wanted to do since I was a little boy. It’s finally here and I’m ready for it. I’m looking forward to doing my best and showing all the scouts and the fans that I’m the best D-tackle in the nation.”

Thompson was among the head-turners during the opening two days of drills, according to scouts and bloggers.

Tom Melton of wrote that while Thompson has “solid measurables” for his position, “his burst and quickness is my favorite part about his game. He gets off the ball very quickly and overwhelmed some of the interior linemen on the South today. He was consistently disruptive all practice and looks like a quality 3-tech in the NFL, perhaps a similar player to Jonathan Babineaux on the Atlanta Falcons.”

Jene Bramel of, writing in a blog for the New York Times, said that while North Carolina defensive end Quinton Coples claimed most of the headlines from Tuesday’s South team workout “Thompson dominated as frequently as Coples.”

“Thompson consistently got under the pads of his blocker and either drove him back or stood his ground and shed easily,” wrote Bramel. “He was in the backfield extremely quickly on a number of 7-on-7 snaps and disrupted a handful of rushing plays in team drills.”

Practices at the NFL-sponsored Senior Bowl, which are scrutinized by scouts, coaches and executives from all NFL teams, are more important than the game itself, which will be played on Saturday, Jan. 28, at 4 p.m. Eastern Time, and will televised by the NFL Network.

Unfortunately, two of Thompson’s Clemson teammates won’t be able to make their case to those watching.

All-America defensive end and ACC sack champion Andre Branch was a late scratch from the event because of a groin injury, while fullback Chad Diehl was replaced on the South roster after suffering a concussion during practice.

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Comments » 1

CootSlapper writes:

Bad News for Diehl , he didn't get to showcase his considerable skill set in front of all these scouts at the Sr Bowl , and he was non existent in Morris' offensive playcalling this year .... good luck to him in free agency . Andre and Brandon will both go in the first 2 rounds in the draft , and good luck to those guys and thanks for your contributions to the Tiger football team!

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