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Bryce Thompson, Saints

1 undrafted free agent who will make the Saints’ 2021 roster

In 2020, the New Orleans Saints had another stellar regular season campaign as they sat atop the NFC South with a 12-4 record. However, they failed to make a strong playoff run as they succumbed to division rival Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the NFC Divisional Round with a 30-20 loss.

With longtime starting quarterback Drew Brees now retired, the Saints are looking to rebuild and reload their roster heading to next season. Apart from their 2021 NFL Draft selections, New Orleans also signed a total of 11 undrafted free agents to participate and toughen the competition in training camp.

Among all those names, Tennessee cornerback Bryce Thompson potentially has the best shot at successfully landing a Week 1 roster spot with the Saints. In the amateur ranks, he joined the Volunteers back in 2018 as an offensive recruit but decided to make the transition to play as a cornerback with the team.

Thompson eventually became a three-year starter and concluded his junior season with a total of 36 total tackles, two interceptions, and a forced fumble through 10 games played. Basing on his level of play, it could’ve been better for him to spend an extra year in college but he ultimately chose to take the gamble and declare for this year’s draft.

Thompson’s decision to leave university backfired as he didn’t get to impress in Tennessee’s Pro Day back in March. He only recorded a dismal 4.52 40-yard dash and a 10-foot broad jump despite being a 5’10, 182-pound prospect which raised concerns about his ability to stay ahead of the faster receivers in the league.

Apart from his questionable metrics, it also didn’t help that he was previously involved in a domestic assault case back in 2019 along with his injury history that ultimately caused him to fall out of the draft board.

Thompson went undrafted but all is not lost as the Saints still gave him an opportunity to showcase his skills in a bid to be named to the final roster heading to next season. Luckily for him, history is on his side as former Tennessee cornerbacks in Emmanuel Moseley and Justin Coleman both managed to have careers in the pros despite going undrafted in their respective classes.

Though Thompson’s skill set is far from perfect, he has shown that he can still be excellent in defending the ball and covering his opponent’s route, especially in zone coverage. Apart from his abilities on the field, perhaps the Saints’ shallow cornerback depth would be the ultimate factor that will allow Thompson to secure a roster spot.

Heading to the 2021 season, the Saints’ cornerback unit is currently being bannered by three-time Pro Bowler Marshon Lattimore. New Orleans then chose to add talent to the room as the team selected Stanford’s Paulson Adebo with the 76th pick in the third round but its depth remains to be thin as of the moment. Perhaps Thompson can serve as an extra body and fill in the void as one of the few true corners that the team has on its roster for next season.

After signing Bryce Thompson as an undrafted free agent, the Saints are hoping that the prospect can show out and prove his worth on the field as he tries to make the final roster. If he manages to do so, it won’t be surprising to see him land a role with the team next season, given the cornerback unit’s thin rotation.