The Cleveland Browns have the opportunity to give themselves a knock-out safety tandem. With Damarious Randall on one side of the field, the Browns need a strong presence across from him. They could find it in Virginia’s Juan Thornhill.
The Cleveland Browns have a need in the secondary before they can really learn to fly on defense. Denzel Ward is a fine cornerback, and Damarious Randall was a breath of fresh air at the free safety position last season. Jabrill Peppers has been shipped off to New York in exchange for Odell Beckham Jr. The Browns need a plug and play strong safety and an upgrade over Morgan Burnett. Virginia’s Juan Thornhill could be their guy.
First and foremost, Thornhill is an athletic freak and perhaps the most athletic safety in this class. The 6-0, 205-pound Virginia native can jump out of the gym with an 11-foot-9 broad jump, and has fantastic, 4.42 speed. Perhaps Thornhill’s most impressive trait is just how easy he makes the safety position look.
Thornhill’s smooth movements make his game tape look more like fine art than football, and his 36 starts give scouts plenty of tape to look at. A former high school quarterback, Thornhill has the instincts to know where he needs to be, but he doesn’t use those instincts as a crutch. Thornhill is patient on his reads and will rarely get fooled. His flashiest game in 2018 came against Miami, where he posted two interceptions and six tackles.
Juan Thornhill, a safety out of UVA, became the first state college player to be taken in this year’s draft on Friday evening.
The Kansas City Chiefs used the 63rd overall pick in the second round to select Thornhill, a versatile defensive back.
Thornhill became the highest drafted player out of UVA since 2011, when the New England Patriots selected another defensive back, cornerback Ras-I Dowling, to start the second round.
Thornhill tied for third in the nation with six interceptions last season.
Thornhill played both safety and cornerback at Virginia, but most scouts project him as an over the top safety at the next level. Some teams had concerns about his tackling ability, and those teams could consider moving him out to corner.
NFL Network draft analyst Daniel Jeremiah is among those who believes Thornhill can play safety at the next level.
“I just love his range,” Jeremiah said. “I just like his ability to play in the middle of the field, to range around, and make a bunch of plays that way. … I think pure free safeties are hard to find right now, that can play over the top, and that’s where I’d put him.”
Tony Pauline, publisher of NFLdraftanalyst.com listed Thornhill as his fastest rising safety going into the draft, in part because of an eye opening showing at the NFL combine. He ran a 4.42-second 40-yard dash to go with his 44-inch vertical jump and 11-foot, 9-inch broad jump.
More big news out of Virginia Cavaliers men’s basketball yesterday, as sophomore guard Marco Anthony announced that he would enter the NCAA transfer portal, while junior guard Kyle Guy, who said last week that he would at least try out the professional waters, fully committed to the NBA Draft. We also found out more news about the team’s schedule next season, learning that UVA will play Vermont and UMass as a part of the Mohegan Sun’s Hall-of-Fame Classic tournament.
Check out some of the highlights from Juan Thornhill’s incredible career at UVA below. Also be sure to tune into the NFL Draft, which starts on Thursday, and Streaking The Lawn for updated coverage on where the star safety will be heading.
Sophomore Will Rock, who caused four turnovers and picked up six ground balls in the team’s wins over VMI and Marist last week, earned ACC Defensive Player of the Week for the first time in his career on Monday.
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