New York Giants added a safety to the roster on Friday by selecting Darian Thompson. Thompson played four years at Boise State and collected a total of 19 interceptions. After the Giants pleased many fans by selecting a safety, Vice President of Player Evaluation, Marc Ross, had a chance to answer questions regarding the Giants’ newest acquisition.
Landon Collins has full control of his strong safety position, leaving the free safety position available to Nat Berhe, Mykkele Thompson, Bennett Jackson, or Thompson. As per usual, the Giants like drafting players who have a lot of versatility. When asked about how D. Thompson is different from the safeties currently on the roster, Marc Ross said that Thompson has the most versatility among the safeties.
“We have a nice mix of guys who all have something different,” Ross stated. “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,” Ross added. “He plays that way there. He has good ball skills, feel for the game, competitiveness and size. So they all give you something different.”
While Berhe and M. Thompson are limited to their positions, D. Thompson brings a ton of versatility by being able to play both the free safety and strong safety position.
After the selection of Eli Apple in the first round, Ross said that interceptions are “a random statistic”. After being asked what makes D. Thompson’s 19 interceptions through his 4-year career different, Ross looked to D. Thompson’s attributes, noting his ball-hawking ability.
“This guy’s a ball hawk. His instincts are what separates,” replied Ross. “He can anticipate where a route is, where a ball is going and he jumps on I,” Ross added. “And that’s what distinguishes him with making interceptions.”
Ross changed his stance on interceptions being a random statistic, crediting D. Thompson’s instincts and pure skill as a safety.
Questioned about D. Thompson’s coverage skills as a whole, Ross gave the truthful answer, saying that he is better in open field. This is due to his lack of speed. It is nearly impossible to cover a receiver with speed when you run a 4.69 40-yard dash.
“You don’t want him covering quick slot guys. He’s better in zone using the field. He’s got some range, so that’s the optimal way to use him.”
Ross got right to the point, saying that D. Thompson is a safety, not a cornerback. This was essential for the Giants to announce, as many of their cornerbacks and safeties had to switch positions last year due to a lack of depth.
D. Thompson was used as a linebacker for a long period of his college football career. As the Giants are very thin at linebacker, Ross was asked about D. Thompson’s potential ability to play as a linebacker.
“Well, not a real linebacker, but nowadays because so many teams play spread, they’ll put their safeties down in maybe a rover or a spur – every team calls it something different, so they used him in that kind of role,” Ross stated. “It’s not a true linebacker position. It’s just a hybrid safety/linebacker role.”
While Ross did put down the idea of D. Thompson being a cornerback, he later answered the question of the possibility of D. Thompson playing some linebacker for the Giants, by saying that yes, he can see D. Thompson playing linebacker if necessary.
Overall, the Giants got a very versatile pick in the third round, with the ability to play at least three positions. If D. Thompson can finally solve the Giants’ problems at safety, the Giants will finally have the pass defense they have been wanting to have for years.