The New York Giants have overhauled the top of their safety depth chart, replacing Landon Collins and Curtis Riley with Jabrill Peppers and Antoine Bethea. While that is likely an improvement for the free safety position, Bethea will still be 35 when the season starts and it probably isn’t the best idea to count on him as an answer going forward. Much has been made of the talent and depth of this draft at the front seven and offensive line positions, but this also looks like a very good class for safeties. If the Giants want to add another free safety to learn from, and eventually replace, Bethea, this is a very good draft in which to do so.
Alabama free safety Deionte Thompson was widely regarded as the top safety in the upcoming draft when the season started. He slipped the draft process when he didn’t take the anticipated step forward over the course of the 2018 season -- and had disappointing performances at the end. He has been replaced by other prospects at the top of the board, but remains an intriguing player with traits worth developing.
- Great size and length for the position.
- Comfortable in space, used to playing in the deep part of the field.
- Quick to get into position when the defense rotates coverage.
- Shows an impressive range.
- Looks comfortable in space.
- Willing run defender and quick to come downhill.
- Aggressive in pass coverage with good ball skills.
- Needs to be more consistent with angles.
- Too often leaves his feet as a tackler.
- Can get caught peeking into the backfield in man coverage.
What They’re Saying
Deionte Thompson is a bit of a roller coaster ride as a single high FS. Thompson has adequate range and long speed, but he’s always looking to jump action in front of his face. That yields big plays...for both the defense and the opposition. Thompson would be an effective single high defender with more focus on trusting his keys and being more willing to clean up the mess instead of trying to jump the football at such a high rate. Ceiling is a Pro Bowl player.
- Kyle Crabbs (The Draft Network - Scouting Report)
Does He Fit The Giants?
If the Giants want to address the future of their safety position and find a true free safety early, then Thompson would be a good fit.
Thompson spent most of his time in a deep zone in Cover 1 or Cover 2 shells, and he is comfortable holding down the back end of the defense. But despite often playing well off the line of scrimmage, he is an aggressive safety. Thompson is constantly looking for opportunities to jump routes and create big plays in coverage, and never hesitates to come downhill in run support. That aggression can get him into trouble at times, giving up a play while trying to make one of his own, but that isn’t a terrible attribute to have -- it is probably easier to rein a player like that in than teach a naturally cautious one to be more aggressive.
He will need to become a more consistent tackler, both in his angles and his technique. Too often he launches himself to deliver hits, only to miss or have players keep their footing and pick up yards after contact. When he does square and deliver a form tackle, he can reliably bring players down.
If the Giants want to address the safety position, Thompson could be a good candidate in the second round and would benefit greatly from playing with Antoine Bethea.