Darian Thompson, FS
School: Boise State | Conference: Mountain West Conference
College Experience: Senior | Age: 22
Height / Weight: 6-2 / 215 lbs
Projected: 2nd Round | Actual: 3rd Round (Pick 71) by the New York Giants
Coming out of high school Darian Thompson was a wide receiver. He set a Paraclete High School (Lancaster, CA) record with 52 receptions for 953 yards and 13 TDs. When he received his first (and only) offer from Boise State he committed over the phone. He models his game after Ed Reed. Darian Thompson is a ballhawk. He just has a knack for being in the right place at the right time. He's a rangy safety and very aggressive. His playing style is high-risk high-reward. He might intercept the pass or he might blow the play. He's not afraid to come up and make a tackle either and is solid tackling in the open field. He has good instincts and the athleticism that culminates into him creating and finishing so many big plays either by interception, deflected pass, or big hit. Thompson is position versatile, he played deep safety and played box safety at Boise State. He plays with poise, he is reliable and is rarely rattled. I want to be fair in these profiles and offer a contrasting opinion here's what NFL analyst Lance Zierlein had to say about Thompson.
Instincts and awareness in coverage will scare coaches when they study the tape. Allowed receivers to get way behind him multiple times against BYU. Undisciplined. Seems to lose track of targets around him and can be baited to vacate his deep responsibilities by crossing routes in front of him. Allowed 10 touchdowns over last three years. Needs to play with more technique and less improv. Hip tightness hinders ability to open quickly and run with necessary speed to close separation. Plays tall in space and quick lateral movement and basic change of direction can be a challenge at times. Needs to slow and gather himself when charging downhill to avoid missed tackles.
This is the harshest criticism I've seen of Thompson in what otherwise be a sea of glowing reviews. Zierlein seems to be focusing on one game here when Thompson was on the bad end of a Hail Mary pass from BYU early in the season.
The movement of third-round pick Darian Thompson. pic.twitter.com/sPiycPUkw9— Paul Schwartz (@NYPost_Schwartz) May 6, 2016
How He Makes the Giants Better and Creates Problems for the Redskins
It was no secret I wanted Darian Thompson drafted by the Redskins. I thought he was the best and only real deep cover safety in this draft. Some disagreed with me but I still believe he is one of the best ball-hawking defensive players in this draft. I hate that he is a Giant. If Thompson becomes what the Giants envision they would have built a solid safety tandem between Thompson and Landon Collins. Thompson has loads to learn and no doubt will struggle at times but all indications coming out of New York is that he is picking the game up well, quick, and should surpass Cooper Taylor on the depth chart by the start of the season. One of Thompsons strengths is reading the QBs eyes and locating the ball in the air.
While Thompson is no Harrison Smith the Redskins should not loft one up and think this rookie won't come down with it. He’s not soft either and will not hesitate to come up and make a tackle when needed. The Redskins would be wise to attack the weak sides of the zone Thompson is defending. While Thompson has shown great zone cover skills he struggles with man to man coverage. The Redskins should employ Jordan Reed against Thompson as much as possible.