Thompkins and Brady already have something in common: Both were overlooked on draft day.
We all know the story about how Brady was passed over for other quarterbacks who never amounted to anything back in the 2000 NFL draft when he was chosen by the Pats in the sixth round (199th overall). As a result, Brady has always played with a chip on his shoulder and still does so to this day.
Thompkins has a somewhat similar story.
The undrafted receiver out of Cincinnati was passed over entirely in the 2013 draft, but for far different reasons. Because of a lengthy arrest record, Thompkins wasn't chosen by any team and eventually ended up right in the hands of the Pats.
After such an experience, there's no doubt Thompkins will have at least a bit of a chip on his shoulder as he proves teams wrong that passed up on him—and that's a heck of a lot of teams.
The things that stand out most about Thompkins is his route-running ability and one-on-one skills. Those have allowed him to emerge above other notable additions to this team's receiving corps such as draft picks Aaron Dobson and Josh Boyce.
With that being said, it isn't simply because the Pats are missing bodies in the passing game that account for Thompkins' rise. Make no mistake: Thompkins has been the team's best receiver during the preseason and he has earned the right to be a starter.
So, clearly the skill is there and things will only get better for Thompkins now that he has Brady throwing to him. After all, Brady has made receivers around him better numerous times in his career.
Guys like Deion Branch, Troy Brown, Reche Caldwell and David Givens were all receivers who benefited greatly from Brady's services. Another name that comes to mind is David Patten, who never produced more than when he played in New England.
The future Hall of Famer has always made the most and gotten the most out of each and every receiver on his team unless they weren't engaged (see: Chad Johnson and Brandon Lloyd).
This is no coincidence, by the way. Brady will go down as one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time because he can do it all.
Not only does Brady have the touch to make incredibly accurate throws, but he also has a cannon for an arm that can beat opposing defenses deep. On top of those qualities, Brady is as smart as they come at the quarterback position and has an uncanny ability to read defenses, adjust and make plays.
Brady is also the kind of QB who can make a player believe he is the best. He is not just a great player, he is also a great figurehead for the team with his clean record off the field and his leading by example with elite play on it.
Especially for a guy like Thompkins, the former is most important. What might be the case for the first time in his football career, Thompkins has someone he can truly emulate that will help him become a disciplined and successful player both in and out of games.
Here is a tweet courtesy of Patriots.com that features both Thompkins and Dobson giving Brady praise as a competitor and a teacher:
Watch: Aaron Dobson and Kenbrell Thompkins talk about the kind of competitor and teacher Tom Brady is on the field http://t.co/LAgGk7dH3i— Patriots.com (@PATRIOTSdotCOM) September 5, 2013
There will never be another opportunity for Thompkins like this one and as long as he sticks with No. 12, he should have a long and successful career as an elite receiver in the NFL.