Kansas City Chiefs take ‘bendy,’ ‘freaky athlete’ in 5th round of 2023 NFL Draft

·3 min read
Stephen F. Austin photo

The Kansas City Chiefs selected Stephen F. Austin edge rusher BJ Thompson in the fifth round on Saturday, hoping his athletic ability will translate to the NFL.

Thompson, a 6-foot-6 defensive end, started his career at Baylor and played two seasons for the Bears before transferring to the FCS level. KC took him with the 166th pick.

At Stephen F. Austin in 2022, he rated as the Lumberjacks’ top defender with an 86.8 defensive grade, according to Pro Football Focus. Out of all 287 FBS and FCS programs, Thompson’s 92.7 pass-rush grade ranked third among all players who played half their team’s snaps.

In February, Thompson was one of the East-West Shrine Bowl standouts, posting 1.5 sacks with four tackles.

Chiefs area scout Jason Lamb said Thompson was impressive in that game.

“You see a guy that just knows how to rush off the edge,” Lamb said. “This guy’s bendy. He does some plays coming off where you think his knee’s gonna buckle for a lot of players, and you’d fall down. But this guy’s able to keep his balance, keep his feet and still just bend off the edge.”

Lamb previously described Thompson on Saturday as a “freaky athlete” while highlighting his height (6-foot-6) and arm length (35 inches). Thompson also made Bruce Feldman’s “college football freaks list” in 2022.

“Arrow up on this kid,” Lamb said. “His ability to rush the passer ... you get excited about that for sure.”

After transferring from Baylor, Thompson said he was “going through a lot of things mentally” in 2019 during the pandemic when he moved home to England, Arkansas. He said the desire to play football then went away for a time.

Eventually, Thompson said his childhood goal of making the NFL resurfaced as he continued his football career at Stephen F. Austin.

“Just being away from the game for that long, when I was out of school, that just put in the realization that I love the game. And I want to get back on that field. I want to get back to how everything was,” Thompson said. “Just going to Stephen F. Austin in 2019, I was just happy to be back in every aspect — from being back in the classroom, being back on a campus, being back on the football field, being back in meeting rooms — it was all just a blessing that I was able to return to that. Just instantly, the love of football just started back growing.”

Thompson’s brother, Blake Mack, was previously on the Chiefs for a short stint as an undrafted free agent in 2018.

At this point, Thompson said his quickness was his best asset as a pass rusher.

“I was blessed with great athletic ability,” Thompson said. “So I’m always gonna go with speed first. I’m always gonna try to use my speed, my athletic ability, to be able to bend around that edge and that corner.”

The Chiefs previously selected: