Chiefs add Stephen F. Austin pass-rush specialist in 5th round

BJ Thompson
Posted at 2:33 PM, Apr 29, 2023
and last updated 2023-04-29 18:20:55-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — After Baylor’s bowl game to close the 2018 season, BJ Thompson did some soul-searching and decided to move on.

“I just kind of felt that it would be better if I continued my career somewhere else,” Thompson said. “It came with a lot of thought, a lot of prayer, a lot of sleepless nights.”

The next year brought even more sleepless nights as Thompson — a native of England, Arkansas — returned home and took a year off from college and football.

“The time that I was home in 2019, I was just kind of going through it mentally,” he said. “It was a time in my life where I was going through a lot of things mentally (and) emotionally and just the desire to play football kind of fell away. I felt a little unmotivated.”

Still, in the back of his mind, Thompson never lost sight of the NFL dream he’d nurtured since elementary school.

By 2020, he was back in school and back in the game with Stephen F. Austin. Three seasons, including 20 1/2 sacks and 27 1/2 tackles for a loss later, Thompson’s dream came true Saturday when the Chiefs drafted him in the fifth round with the 166th overall pick.

“It’s a blessing, for sure, especially coming from where I come from,” Thompson said. “... I’m glad that I’m able to accomplish my dreams and all my hard work hasn’t gone unnoticed.”

He credited the time away from football in 2019 for rejuvenating his love for the sport.

“Just being away from the game when I was out of school and that put in the realization that I love the game and I want to get back on the field, I wanted to get back to how everything was,” Thompson said.

Thompson, a 6-foot-6 and 240-pound prospect, projects as a rotational pass-rush specialist with some impressive athletic skills.

“This guy's a freaky athlete,” said Jason Lamb, the Southwest regional scout for Kansas City.

Thompson ran a 4.58 40-yard dash and posted a 37 1/2-inch vertical jump at his pro day.

While he’s a speedy edge rusher with long arms, who Lamb said could add another 20 pounds without sacrificing his athleticism, Thompson may need time to crack a rotation that includes two recent first-round picks — George Karlaftis and Felix Anudike-Uzomah — along with free-agent addition Charles Omenihu and veteran Mike Danna.

“I was blessed with great athletic ability, so I’m always going to go with speed first and try to bend around that edge,” Thompson said. “But I want to continue to develop my toolbox of pass-rush moves with the coaching staff here in Kansas City. ... I feel like I’m just scratching the surface right now.”