Let’s be honest. Without the production of rookie Juan Thornhill on the defensive side of the ball, the defense might not have come together as the cohesive unit that ultimately ended up taking home the Lombardi trophy on February 2nd. And even though he was medically unable to play on that euphoric day, he was there in spirit and helped make the D what they eventually were ─ a hard nose bunch of guys ready to do whatever it took to take home that trophy. I think the turning point in the season was the Titans game; a game where Derrick Henry ran roughshod over our defensive line. And although Juan Thornhill doesn’t play on the D-line, he certainly was vocal and a leader on D.
Juan Thornhill can be the next Eric Berry on the leadership aspect of the ball: a vocal, lead-by-example type of player this defense so desperately needs. Sure we have Tyrann Mathieu and Frank “the Shark” Clark, but both are aging or have huge contracts. We need a young Turk to step up and ultimately fill those roles, and it seems the best option is Juan Thornhill. He certainly isn’t afraid to speak his mind, and while a lot of people can run their yap, Juan backs it up. Before getting hurt, he had become the starting safety on a Steve Spagnuolo defense renowned for winning the Lombardi, and that is no small feat.
So what can Thornhill do on the field? The future remains to be seen, but as this humble reporter thinks, he can do amazing things. I don’t want to be labeled as a homer, “hot take artist”, but I think this kid could be HOF material, and if not, extremely close. He has the physical ability; it’s just about staying injury free and maintaining the production he showed before his season-ending injury. This may be the hot take of the century, but I think that this kid could reach the stars and beyond! So don’t count out Juan Thornhill. He is capable of a lot more than the national media and the pessimistic fans believe. According to Pro-Football-Reference, Thornhill played only 16 games (because of injury), but had three interceptions and one of those interceptions was a pick 6. He could be the next honey badger with the ability to play anywhere in the defensive backfield, which bodes well for his versatility and as a replacement for Kendall Fuller.
Either way, look for 22 to be making plays all over the field, not just in the centerfield role that he was relegated to in his rookie season. Mark my words, this is the breakout season for Juan Thornhill, and barring injuries, we’ll see him flying all over the field making plays.