Thornton played at Southern Arkansas (HT: 6-3⅛ - WT: 309) . While this was a lower level of competition, he dominated. He has some character concerns, but I don't think they are major, and he has the tools to develop into a solid rotational player, especially under Rex's tutelage. More after the jump.
Positives: Good size... Reasonably athletic... Solid interior rusher... Good burst off the snap... Good length and long arms... Good hand punch... Can get penetration... Flashes good power... Can win some battles for leverage... Good bull rusher... Holds the edge well... Can clog the middle... Good range... Gives a good effort... Plays with intensity... Good but inconsistent motor... Hard hitter... Mean streak... Schematic versatility, fits as a 4-3 UT or 3-4 LDE... Dominated his level of competition... Good upside, has the tools to develop.
Negatives: Not much of an arsenal... Needs to improve lower body strength... Plays a little too upright at times and can be knocked off balance... On the ground too much... Can be engulfed at the point of attack... Inconsistent technique... Conditioning issues, wears down late in games... Character concerns... Was suspended for a drug related arrest in 2009... Missed two games due to suspension for violating team rules in 2010... Lack of competition playing at the division two level... Developmental prospect who could be taken off some boards due to character concerns!
01/25/2011 - SENIOR BOWL PRACTICE, MONDAY: Southern Arkansas defensive tackle Cedric Thornton proved he belonged in the weigh-in (6-3 5/8, 299) and made it clear he wouldn't back down on the field. He constantly talked to O'Dowd, Florida State's Rodney Hudson, and others as he tried to beat them in team drills and one-on-one, even slapping their helmets in a playful way as the plays ended and they returned to the starting blocks. He won few battles on the day, but held his own by standing up against double-team blocks and giving full effort on every play. Hudson overmatched him in one-on-one drills, but Thornton came back on the next rep to push Hudson backward into the tackling dummy serving as the quarterback. That effort will gain him fans among scouts this week as he learns what it takes against FBS stars this week. - Chad Reuter, NFLDraftScout.com
A first team All-America and All-GSC selection a year ago, Thornton finished third on the team this season with 52 total tackles (26 unassisted), with 13 going for 35 yards in loss, including 1.5 sacks for minus seven yards. The senior led the squad with five quarterback hurries, and forced one fumble and had one pass breakup. Thornton's 13 tackles behind the line currently leads the league and is ranked 16th nationally in averaging 1.63 per game.