As the 2016 NFL Draft approaches, we continue to look at different prospects the Saints may consider on draft day. Today, we take a look at Darian Thompson, a safety from Boise State.
Darian Thompson finished the 2015 season with 65 total tackles, 1 sack, and 5 interceptions. He finished his career with 242 tackles and 19 interceptions. Thompson stands as 6’2″, 208 pounds. At the combine, he ran a 4.69-forty. Those are the numbers, now let’s look at the film.
Run Support and Tackling
One of the first things that pops outs when you watch Thompson’s film is his ability to make plays near the line of scrimmage (LOS) and deliver the big-hit. Thompson doesn’t shy away from sacrificing his body. Running backs running around linemen in pursuit were often met by Thompson. He did a relatively good job of contributing on rushes that went straight up the middle as well.
Darian Thompson is a reliable open-field tackler. Quite frankly, he wasn’t asked to make too many one-on-one tackles, but when he was, he typically succeeded. When working in zone coverage, he was quick to deliver a hit to receivers catching the football. His tackling faltered occasionally as he would overrun some of the ballcarriers, but this should be expected when a player is as aggressive as him. He also does a great job of limiting where ballcarriers can run. When watching the play unfold, he analyzes the positioning of the ballcarrier and fellow teammates; he then proceeds to put himself in a position where can make a play. This ability is paramount as he doesn’t have to chase after ballcarriers often; face mask and horse-collar penalties are less likely to happen as a result.
Coverage wasn’t a problem for Thompson. His range was displayed frequently, and he was more than capable of playing in a single-high coverage. Thompson’s awareness is better than average, and this allows him to keep track of receivers in his zone. The instincts Thompson possesses are incredible. He has no problem reading opposing quarterbacks. His ability to read quarterbacks allows him to jump routes and intercept passes.
Man coverage is something Thompson struggles with. There are a few plays where he plays tight coverage against the opposing receiver, but these play are overshadowed by the plays where he is overaggressive. This aggressiveness has cost him on a number of plays. He will undercut a pass, and this often leads to an easy catch for the receiver. I’m sure he has been working on and will continue to work on his man coverage. Zone coverage is undoubtedly his strength.
Darian Thompson has a lot of skills that can be developed, and he will likely have the ability to come into the league and start. He is a well-rounded player who has no glaring weakness, although he could afford to improve his man coverage. His balance will make him very attractive to NFL teams. In my opinion, he has the ability to play both strong and free safety. Thompson should be able to come into the NFL and make plays.
Thompson could be in play for the Saints in the second round. It’d be a reach to go after him with the 12th pick, but he could be a nice selection with the 47th pick. The Saints have many needs and safety may not be a top-three need. Sean Payton made it known that safety needs to be addressed as the Saints lost Rafael Bush to free agency. Kenny Vaccaro and Jairus Byrd will most likely be the starters next season (barring injury), but the Saints could potentially look for a replacement as Byrd has not lived up to his contract and Vaccaro is nearing the end of his contract. Regardless, the Saints should look for additional depth. If Thompson is graded as the best player available (BPA) when the Saints are up at 47, don’t be surprised to hear his name get called.