In the end, the Detroit Lions finished with their favorite corner.
But for a moment there, at the end of the third round with the end of Day 2 of the 2021 NFL Draft, their choice chose the team on board after sweating.
The San Francisco 49ers had put in the time and effort to get to know Michigan cornerback Ambry Thomas. They were in the market for a defensive defensive strike, someone who could come in and compete for a game, and he felt that Thomas fit that shape.
“Amber was the man who really won the money with us,”
So much steam, in fact, they held numerous conversations over four months. The 49ers even instructed a second coach to call Thomas just a few weeks ago.
Connected: Michigan CB Ambry Thomas goes to the 49ers in the third round
“We talked for a long time and we really just got to know each other,” Thomas said. “And feel each other.”
What the 49ers found was an intelligent, attentive player. They knew he had given up on the 2020 season, but they didn’t hold back against him – John’s son, Jake, playing football at Stanford – instead decided to find out why. Thomas was coming out of his most productive season at the college in 2019, when he won awards from the Big Ten of the third team while participating in defense and special teams.
“One thinks we’re trying to give these boys an honest look,” Lynch said. “I think sometimes it’s easy to say ‘Hey, he gave up.’ Some people even went so far as to say, “He doesn’t like football if he refuses.”
“No, I am the father of a child who played on a college football team this year. The plans were so in the air. I do not blame any of these children for giving up. “
Since Thomas did not play, interested NFL teams had to watch his 2019 film – when he collected 38 corner games, three of them for a loss and was a serious destroyer in the back. Three interceptions. Seven deviations. Two excavated restorations. A year earlier, Thomas even returned the initial start for a touchdown.
Summary for day 2: The lions go to the defense with all three kicks; drawn three Werewolves
Lynch also turned to Mike Zordich, a defensive back coach in Central Michigan who coached Thomas during his three seasons in Michigan. And Zordich, Lynch said, had nothing to say but good things about him.
“He thought of the world for him,” Lynch said. “He is a man who ran in the high 4.3. I think his biggest asset (s) is his poise in the moment of truth. When this ball is in the air, it has the ability to find it – which is not as easy to find as you think about DB.
“As the saying goes,” There’s a reason they play defensively. Amber has a good ability to be very balanced when the ball is in the air. “
Which brings us back to the Lions and we choose number 101, one before the 49s. There was a growing sense in San Francisco’s military room that, given the need — hey, Detroit found itself with Syracuse corner defender Ifeatu Melifonvu — and the local connection that the Lions would invade and take Thomas.
“He’s a child from Michigan.” From Detroit, Lynch said. “We were worried – Detroit had a pickaxe in front of us and we started to worry right there that they might take it. But they made a new angle and we were very happy to have it.
“We think he can do well with us. We’re really fired so we can catch him. “
Read more about football in Michigan:
Nico Collins navigates in the deep WR class, refuses to become the third lap of the NFL
Michigan OL Jalen Mayfield slipped to the Falcons in the third round
Corum, Haskins to get “most of” Michigan carriers in 2021, says Harbo
Kwity Paye won hearts, but his film impressed Colts
Analysts: Paye is a “great athlete”, but he needs to be trained