Darwin Thompson, RB
School: Utah State | Conference: Mountain West
College Experience: Junior | Age: 21?
Height / Weight: 5-8 / 200 lbs
Projected Draft Status: 4th or 5th round
NFL Comparison: Duke Johnson
Darwin Thompson was just a 2-star prospect from Jenks, Oklahoma who didn’t receive any scholarships from the programs he wanted to play for (Missouri, Oklahoma, OKST, etc) back in 2015. He was described as “average”. Thompson went the JUCO route instead and played for Northeastern Oklahoma A&M during the 2016 season. Thompson had a couple successful seasons there as he caught the attention of FBS college programs. He got a few opportunities and chose to transfer to Utah State because he felt at home after he talked with the head coach who is also from Oklahoma. Thompson is gaining more buzz as the draft process continues. He is a versatile back who is a threat on the ground and through the air. He had a lot of success at Utah State in his one season and is considered one of the best athlete’s in this year’s draft. Strangely enough, Thompson was not invited to the NFL Combine to showcase his skills on a national stage but rest assured when you watch him your eyes aren’t deceiving you. He is fast, strong, shifty, tough, and plays with some of the best balance at the position in this class. He has drawn comparisons to Tarik Cohen, considering what Cohen has done in the league already Thompson should be on every team’s radar who is looking for a dangerous playmaker as their change of pace / 3rd down back. Thompson certainly is no longer “average”. He has the potential to be a dynamic threat on Sunday’s.
- Impressive athleticism, quickness, speed, agility, and balance for the position.
- Versatile player who can catch the ball and well as he can run it. Presents mismatches in the backfield. Shows natural hands and is a threat after the catch where he can use his skills to allude defenders for YAC and big plays.
- As a runner he’s tough and can play much bigger than his size. His contact balance and strength are some of the best in the class and he rarely goes down with simple arm tackles. He shows good quickness and burst and while he can stretch the field on zone runs he can also run in between the tackles. I also need to mention how good his lateral movement and jump cuts are. He strings these together nicely to get positive yards keeps defenders off him with effective stiff arms.
- Solid vision and doesn’t waste time with theatrics. He sees his lane and he is bursting through it. Has the speed and acceleration to go the distance and is rumored to run in the low 4.4’s. He also shows patience and follows his blockers.
- Reliable with the ball so far. 1 fumble this season on 176 touches.
- One year of FBS production outside of the P5 conferences. Didn’t have overwhelmingly dominant numbers in JUCO either. Legit questions about how much of his game will translate well to the NFL.
- I wasn’t left impressed at all with his pass blocking ability. While his receiving ability may get him on the field in some 3rd down situations his blocking will get him removed as well if he doesn’t improve his technique. He doesn’t properly set himself and square up instead he lunges for his man, often missing or not making good enough contact.
- Ran almost exclusively out of the shotgun and may need to get used to more pro style running formations and is probably best fit for a zone run scheme.
Let’s see his work:
Darwin Thompson is such a blast. Contact balance for a RB that small is wild pic.twitter.com/gIuFhRmqdt— Jon Ledyard (@LedyardNFLDraft) January 11, 2019
My next favorite RB in the upcoming draft class:— Cagen Cantrell (@CeeingTheDraft) February 5, 2019
Darwin Thompson, Utah State.
Much like Phillip Lindsay last year, size doesn’t define his running profile.
The #NFLCombine is again missing out (like Lindsay) on a powerful, nimble, and intelligent back who runs with detail. pic.twitter.com/BtSNufFl89
How He Would Fit On The Redskins
Thompson would be a nice day 3 pickup for the Redskins in the event Chris Thompson is cut this offseason. The Redskin offense going into 2019 should have a renewed focus on the rushing attack and it could see an uptick not just in volume but in particular packages that feature quick screens and passes designed to bring some relief to whoever the QB is. Darwin Thompson has explosive traits and certainly is a dynamic weapon if used wisely. Can you imagine this guy on a screen pass with blockers in front of him? Or on stretch run plays where a gap presents itself? He’s gone. Unfortunately he isn’t as polished as CT so I question his overall value right now as a true 3rd down replacement. Of course, he could be taught to block. One of the biggest questions I have about Darwin is if his production is at least in part a case of lightning in a bottle? I think its a fair question given his experience in JUCO and with one one year of D1 college football under his belt. There is no question he has the physical skills to succeed but it won’t be as easy to find gaps to run through in the NFL like it was against San Jose State. I’m not sure if he’s ready day 1 but the potential for him to be something special is there and when talking day 3 picks that’s as good as you can ask for in most cases.