Taking a dive into the deep pool of 2022 NFL Draft scouting reports for the Conference USA leads us to the Middle Tennessee State Blue Raiders today. Here, we find a longtime C-USA stand out in Reed Blankenship as well as tremendous upside from former linebacker DQ Thomas. As the 2022 NFL Draft is ever-approaching, let’s keep it rolling with these Blue Raiders who could find themselves on an NFL roster soon.
Middle Tennessee 2022 NFL Draft Scouting Reports
As it stands now, the number of MTSU players in the NFL is six. Their two most famous alums in the NFL happen to be at safety and linebacker.
Current Tennessee Titans S Kevin Byard and Kansas City Chiefs LB Darius Harris hail from MTSU. Blankenship and Thomas could soon join them.
Blankenship spent five years at MTSU, each of them as productive as the others on a per-game basis. He had 9 interceptions over the years as well as 19 pass breakups in coverage alone. Blankenship is a ballhawk in coverage but a complement in run defense at the same time.
As far as Thomas, he also spent a good portion of time at MTSU, starting for four straight years in the middle. He recorded over 65 tackles in every season, including a COVID-19-shortened 2020 campaign. Thomas had 2 interceptions, 7 pass breakups, and 18.5 sacks over his tenure for the Blue Raiders.
Reed Blankenship, S
Positives: Tough, nasty safety who fires up the field, sells out defending the run, and breaks down well. Redirects to ball handlers, wraps up tackling, and brings opponents down in the open field. Possesses outstanding instincts and shows almost a sixth sense to what’s happening on the field. Smooth collapsing laterally to get to the action and works hard to make the tackle. Gives effort on special teams.
Negatives: Does not show great range and is late getting to the flanks. Average size and speed.
Analysis: Blankenship was very productive for Middle Tennessee but has speed limitations. He’s a strong safety type who can best serve a team on coverage units.
DQ Thomas, LB
Positives: Athletic linebacker who flashes a complete game. Agile and fluid moving about the field and breaks down well. Quickly picks up coverage assignments, covers a good amount of area, and displays speed pursuing the action. Moves well laterally and sells out on the blitz but stays with his responsibilities. Resilient and effectively uses his hands to protect himself.
Negatives: Easily disrupted from the action by the initial block. Does not show great force up the field despite his sack numbers.
Analysis: Thomas is undersized, but he’s an explosive run-and-chase linebacker who makes a lot of tackles behind the line of scrimmage while showing ability in coverage. He’s been a solid player at Middle Tennessee and could have a home on an NFL roster as an eighth linebacker.