Third-Rounder Darian Thompson Could Be The New York Giants Starting Safety Week One
New York Giants fans expected Jerry Reese to add another safety in free agency to play alongside Landon Collins for the 2016 season. As the big name free safeties all dropped off the board to other clubs, Reese seemed content with a position battle between Nat Berhe, Mykelle Thompson and Bennett Jackson.
Then came the draft, when Reese added another player to the competition in the third round: Boise State FS Darian Thompson. It’s obviously still early, but reports on the rookie Thompson are good.
“Thompson, I thought, was barking things out,” Giants defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo said Friday, on the first day of the team’s rookie minicamp. “That’s the first thing I look for in a safety. Will you be loud? Are you not afraid to make a mistake? I think that’s huge, and that stuck out a little bit. We’ve got a long way to go, though.”
A long way to go, indeed. But what bodes well for Thompson’s bid for a starting role is the unproven nature of his competition. Both Mykelle Thompson and Jackson both missed their rookie seasons giving them exactly zero games of NFL experience. Berhe also didn’t hit the field last season, but he has a whopping 14 tackles in the NFL. Granted, participating in multiple training camps will help acclimate a player to pro speed, but Darian isn’t too far behind.
Thompson’s stats at Boise State are encouraging for Giants fans. According to Pro Football Focus, 51.5% of passes thrown into his coverage in 2015 were completed, the 7th-best rate for a safety in the NFL Draft. While that stat doesn’t jump off the page, his 19 career college interceptions certainly should.
Thompson’s a ball hawk. The Giants defense survived off turnovers in 2015, if you can call what the defense in 2015 did surviving. PFF said of the Thompson’s fit on the Giants, he “can play single-high free safety, allowing Collins to play in the box, but even if they play more 2-high looks, Thompson does a nice job working downhill in both the pass and run game.”
There’s obviously no way to predict a starter in May, especially when all four candidates haven’t hit the field at the same time, but Thompson made a great first impression on Spagnuolo and we know the Giants have no problem starting a rookie at safety. Collins started every game last season.