Kenbrell Thompkins tirelessly waited for the phone call of his dreams this past April. Yet, all seven rounds of the 2013 NFL Draft passed and no team reached out for his services.
Why were teams hesitant to select the wide receiver out of Cincinnati, who caught 78 passes for 1,077 yards with four touchdowns in two seasons for the Bearcats? Were teams strayed away from Thompkins because he had been arrested seven times before he reached the age of 19? Regardless of why teams opted not to select Thompkins, draft day was a devastating experience for the wideout.
“It’s just definitely a moment that I’ll remember for the rest of my life,” Thompkins said to NESN.com. “Pretty much just sitting there waiting for that phone call and not to get it. It’s just something that every guy just — that’s a guy’s dream, to hear their name get called. And for it not to get called, that’s just something I’ll remember for the rest of my life.”
Thompkins was signed to an non-guaranteed contract with the New England Patriots following the draft. He entered OTAs as a long shot to make the roster, but he quickly emerged from the summer program as one of the most intriguing players on the team. Thompkins quickly developed chemistry with Tom Brady as the two progressed together during training camp. With each passing day, it became clear that Thompkins would be vital part of the Patriots’ offense in 2013.
In the Patriots’ first preseason game against the Philadelphia Eagles, Thompkins caught four of Brady’s completions, accumulating 24 receiving yards in his first taste of NFL action.
Thompkins was then able to make a strong impression to the Patriots coaching staff during the team’s joint practice with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. His route running and soft hands were recognized by the coaching staff, and his domination in the joint practice earned him a start in the preseason contest last night against the Bucs.
Versus the Bucs, Brady was in complete sync with wideout Danny Amendola, who caught six passes for 71 yards, including a 26-yard touchdown reception in the opening drive of the game. Thompkins did not have an impact in the offense last night, catching just one pass for three yards. However, the message is clear that he will be the starting at wideout alongside Amendola, the team’s slot receiver. Thompkins played in 21 of Brady’s 25 snaps against the Bucs, more than any other wideout on the team.
After standing out in OTAs and training camp, Thompkins has the chance to fill the void at wideout that the Patriots have seemingly missed since the departure of Randy Moss. The 6-foot-1-inch wideout has the ability to catch the deep pass in traffic. He also possesses electric speed and has been praised for his football savvy. Thompkins has the potential to flourish in the Patriots’ offense led by Brady. Not bad for a guy who was forced to watch 224 other players get drafted instead of him this past April.