Cedric Thornton has quietly had an extremely productive preseason as the three-technique defensive end for the Philadelphia Eagles. Much of the attention has gone to the likes of Fletcher Cox and Vinny Curry, but Thornton has made some splash plays getting into the backfield and stuffing the run.
Thornton likes to keep the game simple. He just wants to beat the man in front of him and everything else will take care of itself. It is that simplicity and staying with the basics that has made Thornton so successful in this 3-4 scheme. Thornton is as athletic as they come at the defensive line position. He is well over 300 pounds but moves nimbly like a linebacker, which should help him become a real play maker at that left defensive end spot.
Thornton was undrafted coming out of college. He was regarded as a first- or second-day talent, but had some character issues in college that slid him out of the draft. Hall of Fame coach Bill Parcells even advised teams to go check this kid out at his pro day. The Eagles pounced when the draft was over and beat out a few other squads in making Thornton a high-priority undrafted free agent signing.
The move seems to have paid off. Early on in training camp in the preseason, the Eagles’ defensive line looks like one of the strengths of the team. Cox, Thornton and Curry in particular have all been disruptive and have made plays against the run and pass. Thornton looks like one of those hidden gems that the Eagles found. If he continues to develop and progress, he and Cox could help pair a dominant defensive line.