What he brings: Thornton is a tall, lean defender who will need to work to pack on some more size to his frame but can be an active and productive player. He plays a little faster than testing might suggest, and despite his long, lean build can be a tough presence against the run, as he can keep his pad level down and play with good leverage. Not a speed-rushing presence off the edge, but he displays the tools to be an effective pass rusher as he gets bigger and stronger and further develops the use of his hands.
How he fits: For a Tigers defense that has been among the worst in the SEC in many areas over the last two seasons, improving on that side of the ball is a big key for Auburn and its new staff. A way to get better on defense is to get better up front, and the Tigers are making some strides to try to do that. Their 2013 class was led by D-Linemen with players like five-star Carl Lawson and tackle Montravius Adams, and in Thornton they are adding another good football player to the mix.
History at position: The SEC is known for its stellar D-line play, and the Tigers have contributed to that reputation over the years with players like DT Nick Fairley. While they have more recently produced some good DL's like Corey Lemonier, they have not been as strong up front as many of their SEC counterparts, but they look be making an effort to get stronger in the defensive trenches.
Prediction for performance: Thornton is a more stout and physical presence than his slight build might suggest, but he stills needs to fill out more, and a redshirt likely would be ideal as he works to pack on some of that needed mass. With many of the DLs, especially at end, expected to contribute this season being seniors, he could be needed to contribute as a freshman. He could do it in a back-up or situational role, as he is an active and fairly heady player. We don't see Thornton as possessing the same type of potential impact of a Lawson or Adams, but he can be a good football player whose presence strengthens the Tigers' defensive line overall.
How the class is shaping up: It has been a big week for the Tigers, whose class currently sits at No. 22 in the rankings, as they added three defensive players to their 2014 class. In addition to picking up a commitment from junior college safety Derrick Moncrief, they also added two ESPN 150 prospects in Thornton and LB Tre’ Williams.