When it comes to the Arizona Cardinals’ safety backfield, a couple players that come to mind are Pro Bowler Budda Baker and last year’s supplemental draft pick Jalen Thompson.
But one player that should be in the spotlight and is also poised for a big year is 2019 fifth-round pick Deionte Thompson.
The 23-year-old safety from Orange, Texas did not have the type of season he was expecting in his first year in the NFL. He was stuck behind D.J. Swearinger the first quarter of the season but after the veteran was released, he watched the other Thompson on the team emerge as the starter.
With the lack of significant personnel moves in the secondary this year, the Texas native is expected to have more playing time in the upcoming season.
Prior to joining the Cardinals, Deionte Thompson (6-1 195lbs) was a one-year starter at Alabama. He was a consensus first-team All-American by the Associated Press in 2018 after making 78 tackles, two interceptions, and forcing three fumbles as a junior.
In the early stages of the draft process, he was considered by many analysts to be a first-round draft selection. But with the concerns with his wrist injury, thin frame, and straight-line speed, Thompson fell all the way to the fifth round and got scooped up by the Cardinals.
“Deionte, we’re going to select you with the first pick in the fifth round,” said Keim in episode six of the Cardinals 2019 Flight Plan. “Not sure why you were still there and that’s regardless of the point. Right now, it’s about making the best of this opportunity.”
Even Keim was shocked that he fell as far as he did and considering that he did not add any veterans to the secondary suggests he still has a great deal of trust in Thompson.
“I worked hard to get to the NFL, and now it’s about staying here,” Thompson told KFDM-TV in Beaumont, Texas. “And I’m going to work just as hard to stay here. I’m confident in myself. I’m confident in my game to make this work.”
He has also been training with former NFL safety Ryan Clark at his DB Precision training facility at Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
“[Ryan Clark] really pushed me to my limit,” Thompson said. “He’s kind of made me work on my faults that I had in my game, and we’ve been getting after it each and every day, and I feel like since the first day that I’ve got here, I’ve improved a lot.”
In the video of KFDM-TV’s interview with Deionte Thompson, it certainly looks like he added more muscle to his frame, got a little faster, and gained much-needed weight for the position.
With his familiarity with Vance Joseph’s playbook going into his second year with the Cardinals, improved communication and production is expected from Thompson.
“I have Pro Bowl aspirations, Super Bowl aspirations throughout my NFL career,” Thompson said, “and one day I want to achieve all those goals, so I’m going to work hard each and every day. Every opportunity I get to display my work, I’m going to do it.”
Production wise, I could see him get 50-60 tackles with a few forced turnovers. The Cardinals are counting on their 2019 draft class to take their game to the next level in the upcoming season and despite being a late draft pick, Thompson will be a player to watch.