Michigan corner Ambry Thomas confident NFL teams will see his talent

Angelique S. Chengelis
The Detroit News

Former Michigan cornerback Ambry Thomas opted out before last season, but despite the time away from the game, he is certain he is among the best at his position.

Thomas and 10 of his teammates will participate in Michigan’s Pro Day on Friday as they continue preparing for the NFL Draft April 29-May 1. The NFL canceled the combine, so this will give scouts a chance to see how the players test and perform in individual drills.

“I was the No. 1 cornerback in the Big Ten before I decided to opt out, and I still am. I truly believe that I’m a top-five cornerback, without a doubt,” Thomas told reporters on Wednesday.

Before the 2019 season, Thomas, a Detroit-native who played at King, spent a month in the hospital with colitis and lost more than 30 pounds. He returned to start every game and had three interceptions, seven pass breakups, two fumble recoveries and 38 tackles.

Michigan defensive back Ambry Thomas.

The Big Ten initially said last year it would play a conference-only schedule, then postponed the season in August because of lingering COVID-19-related issues. Thomas shortly after declared for the NFL Draft. The conference then decided in September it would play a nine-game schedule starting the next month. Thomas did not return to play for Michigan.

“My colitis played a big part and just so much uncertainty with the Big Ten,” Thomas said of the reasons that went into his decision to opt out. “I didn’t feel comfortable going out there to play if they weren’t comfortable with us being out there playing. If it had started on time, I would have played that season. But just with the uncertainty, us stopping here, stopping there, it shut down, didn’t start back up, I felt like I’m on my time, I’m not on the Big Ten’s time schedule.

“I just knew I had to just keep going moving forward. When the season got reinstated, coaches hit me up to come back, but by that time, I was already deep into training and I had my mind made.”

Thomas attended the Senior Bowl but had limited playing time in the game. His last game for Michigan was in the Citrus Bowl on Jan. 1, 2020.

“I’m ready to show everybody what I can do,” Thomas said of Pro Day. “I feel like I’ve got a chip on my shoulder, because I feel disrespected through this whole process. I know what I bring to the table. I missed a whole offseason at Michigan and still played how I played (in 2019). I was on one week of practice when I got back. I know what I can do, put it like that.”

ESPN NFL Draft analyst Mel Kiper earlier this month in a call with reporters said he projects Thomas going in the fourth round. Thomas, however, said he believes teams are more than aware of his talent.

“I don’t think I have to convince anyone,” he said. “They all know my story, they all know I was in the hospital 30 days, lost 34 pounds in the hospital and still came back to play that season. To be able to play Week 1 and make plays, they’re all amazed by that, so I’m not worried about how this process will play out. Whether I go first round to undrafted, I know when I get my chance, I’m gonna shine, and I believe the NFL coaches know that as well.”


Twitter: @chengelis