The New York Giants completed their work on Day of the 2016 NFL Draft by selecting Boise State safety Darian Thompson with the eighth pick of the third round, 71st overall. Earlier in the night, the Giants used their second-round pick (40th overall) to select Oklahoma wide receiver Sterling Shepard. [Reaction | Analysis]
Thompson was ranked No. 71 on our Consensus Big Board.
Thompson, 6-foot-1 3/4, 208 pounds, had 19 interceptions during his four-year career at Boise. Here is the summary of Thompson's skills from CBS Sports analysts Dane Brugler in his 2016 NFL Draft Guide.
"A four-year starter, Thompson forced his way onto the field as a freshman and leaves Boise as one of the most accomplished defenders in school history - was asked to do a little bit of everything on tape, attacking the run and playing deep coverage. Although his missed tackles are frustrating, he screams to the football as a run defender with a physical mentality to take out ballcarriers. Thompson has the anticipation and ballskills to read quarterbacks and make plays on the ball, but he also guesses too much and lacks the same cover skills once asked to turn and run. His inconsistencies make it tough to trust him as the last line of defense, but his play-making instincts and toughness will interest NFL coaches as a downhill safety."
Giants GM Jerry Reese said the organization sees Thompson as a free safety.
"Big kid, center fielder, checks a lot of boxes for us. We really like how he makes plays on the football. We think he's a solid tackler back there. Makes the calls. Captain. High test score. A lot of things to like about him," Reese said. "we think he's a free safety. He makes the calls back there for his team, he's a ball hawk back there. We think he's going to create a lot of competition in the secondary at that safety position."
Giants VP of Player Evaluation Marc Ross said the Giants like the versatility Thompson adds to their safety group.
"We have a nice mix of guys who all have something different. Nat's a box guy and real competitive. Mykkele's a free range guy. This guy's a free safety who can also play strong. He plays that way there. He has good ball skills, feel for the game, competitiveness and size. So they all give you something different," Ross said. "This guy's a ball hawk. His instincts are what separates. He can anticipate where a route is, where a ball is going and he jumps on it. And that's what distinguishes him with making interceptions."
Head coach Ben McAdoo sounded like he was looking forward to the competition at safety.
"We have a lot of young guys in the safety mix and, quite frankly, we haven't seen them," coach Ben McAdoo said. "They have been nicked up. They basically had a medical redshirt type year last year, and it is good to get them back out there. They are working to get back out and get back out 100 percent, so we are chomping at the bit to look at those guys. Darian is a guy we are going to throw into the mix and let them all compete."
In its draft guide, Pro Football Focus compares Thompson to Morgan Burnett of the Green Bay Packers.
The league is not full of players that can perform well in coverage and still offer something in the run game. Thompson flashes the ability to do both, and has graded well in each area, but just can't put it all together in a way that avoids mistakes in each facet. If he can fix those issues and the big plays they result in, he could be an excellent safety, but even with them there is a place for him in the NFL given his plus points.
Sports Illustrated immediately gave the selection an "A" grade.
Thompson's sluggish 40 time at the combine probably knocked him down boards, but he is an absolute ballhawk in the passing game. Pairing him with Landon Collins gives the Giants a heck of a 1-2 combo, and Collins can help cover up some of Thompson's recognition shortcomings.