Eyebrows were raised when the New York Giants made defensive back Mykkele Thompson, expected by most to be a priority free agent, a fifth-round pick in the 2015 NFL Draft. Two years, one game and two season-ending injuries later, Thompson is still looking for a chance to prove that the Giants were right.
“That’s probably the biggest frustration,” the 24-year-old told me during mandatory mini-camp. “Just not being able to showcase what I’m actually about because there was a lot of surprise and doubt when I got drafted. It’s just me wanting to go prove myself to my teammates and the fans.”
Let’s focus on Thompson as we continue our player-by-player profiles of the Giants’ 90-man roster.
2016 Season In Review
Thompson made the roster as a reserve safety, but landed on injured reserve just eight special teams snaps into his first NFL regular-season game when he suffered a knee injury. He spent 2015 on IR after suffering a torn Achilles tendon during a preseason game.
“It’s definitely a challenge. You go from playing every game to actually being the one sitting out,” Thompson said. “It’s definitely been a challenge for me, but I just take it in stride, just try to learn and see what I can do different.”
2017 Season Outlook
If Thompson makes the 53-man roster this season, he will do so at a different position than the one he played during his first two seasons. The Giants have moved the 6-foot, 193-pound Thompson from safety to cornerback.
“Thankfully I was able to play that a little bit when I was in college, so it’s not completely new to me. It’s definitely a transition,” Thompson said. “Being that close. Everything comes at you a lot faster when you’re at the line of scrimmage. Of course the footwork is really important, and just the technique.”
Thompson will, of course, have to be healthy to have a shot at making the team. He sat out mandatory mini-camp while nursing soreness in his groin.
“It’s all in the right leg. Probably over-compensating. I’ll be good by training camp,” he said.
Thompson was exclusively a safety during his first three collegiate seasons at Texas. He split time between safety and corner during his senior season. Per Pro Football Focus, he played 74 percent of his snaps at corner as a senior, with 51 percent coming on the outside and 23 percent in the slot. PFF had him ranked 57th among 233 qualifying corners in yards allowed per coverage snap, at 0.93.
The Giants appear well-stocked at safety. Landon Collins, Darian Thompson and Andrew Adams are roster locks if healthy. Nat Berhe, Duke Ihenacho, Jadar Johnson and Ryan Murphy are among those competing for a roster spot.
At corner, Thompson is competing with Valentino Blake, Michael Hunter and Donte Deayon.
“Playing safety you’re the quarterback of the secondary. That really helps just to know what everybody else is doing. It’s all about applying it when I go to the other positions,” Thompson said. “Just trying to be as versatile as I can and just trying to contribute, prove to the guys on the field and the fans what I’m capable of doing.”