With the eighth pick in the third round of the 2016 NFL Draft, the New York Giants selected safety Darian Thompson from Boise State University.
SCOUTING REPORT: The 6’2”, 208-pound Thompson is a big, physical safety who lacks ideal overall athleticism and speed. Big hitter and aggressive in run support. He is an intelligent, disciplined, instinctive center-fielder against the pass who makes plays on the football (19 career interceptions). Plays faster than he times – smooth with no wasted motion. Hard working and competitive. Team leader.
MEDIA Q&A WITH GENERAL MANAGER JERRY REESE: (Video)
Reese: Darian Thompson, free safety, Boise State. Big kid, center fielder, checks a lot of boxes for us. We really like how he makes plays on the football. We think he’s a solid tackler back there. Makes the calls. Captain. High test score. A lot of things to like about him. Any questions?
Q: Was Darian once again at the top of your board?
A: There were a couple of guys we talked about right here with this pick…a couple guys.
Q: Did you like him because how he would team up with Landon Collins?
A: Well, we think he’s a free safety. He makes the calls back there for his team, he’s a ball hawk back there. We think he’s going to create a lot of competition in the secondary at that safety position. Looking forward to getting him in here.
Q: Does he free up Landon though to come down to the box?
A: Well, that’s up to the coaches…that’s up to Ben (McAdoo) and Steve (Spagnuolo), whatever they want to do with him. I think his skillset is a free safety skillset. I do think he’s a tough tackler, can come down in the box. I think he’s interchangeable. I think he’s one of those safeties that can do both.
Q: You don’t seem like you have a lot of guys on the roster with that kind of productivity as far as the interceptions, the guy gets the ball. Do you see that translating to the next level?
A: Well, we sure hope so. Never translate until you get them out there and they have to do it. But we sure think he has a skillset to do that. Again, he checks a lot of boxes for us.
Q: You said there were a couple guys in this one…what was it about him that sort of pushed him over the top?
A: It was just the guys we have there…we thought where we are right now and the skillset we’re looking for, we thought he had the best skillset at this point.
Q: Now that this round is done and your top three players are in the books, will you go into tomorrow—I hate to say it—just looking for the best available player?
A: We’re always looking for value and need…we’re always trying to couple those two things together. We try our best to get that.
Q: Does “need” mean you’ll be looking for an offensive lineman?
A: We’re going to look for the best player. We’re going to try to couple value with need.
Q: Do you feel like you have to get an offensive lineman with one of those last three picks, maybe not in one specific one, but you’d like one of those three picks to come away with that position?
A: No, we just feel like we can try to get a value pick and a need pick as well. Whatever we think the value is and what we think the need is, we can try to couple those things together.
Q: What are the chances of you guys making some sort of trade to earn yourselves another pick tonight?
A: We’ll keep all our options open.
Q: Have you had many phone calls tonight?
A: We’ve made phone calls, we’ve taken phone calls, yeah.
Q: Were you close to a trade before the second round pick?
A: I don’t think we were close to a trade. I can’t remember that far back.
MEDIA Q&A WITH VICE PRESIDENT OF PLAYER EVALUATION MARC ROSS: (Video)
Q: Did you see Darian Thompson in person?
A: I saw him in practice in the Senior Bowl and in the Combine.
Q: What makes him different from the other guys you have that are going to compete for that free safety spot.
A: We have a nice mix of guys who all have something different. 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. He plays that way there. He has good ball skills, feel for the game, competitiveness and size. So they all give you something different.
Q: Do you project how he will play and how he will play off of Landon?
A: Sure. What we like is that this guy has played strong safety and the linebacker position, so they move him all around. His versatility definitely was intriguing.
Q: When it comes down to final two guys at the end, for you, what was the determining factor?
A: When you talk them through, you try to highlight the positives. And it comes down to who has the most positives in their profile on and off the field.
Q: I’m not sure of the history of all the other safeties, but this guy has more interceptions than any of them.
A: Yes, he has a ton of them, more than a lot of guys who have played.
Q: You talked yesterday about interceptions being a random statistic. What makes this guy different?
A: This guy’s a ball hawk. His instincts are what separates. He can anticipate where a route is, where a ball is going and he jumps on it. And that’s what distinguishes him with making interceptions.
Q: How is he in coverage in general?
A: 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.
Q: Is it hard to rate him because she’s not a big conference guy?
A: Boise State is a big time program. They’re a different mid-major. They’re big time, so they’ve had players, first round picks, the whole deal. They’re up there with all of the other upper echelon teams.
Q: Was there anything that was different about how these two days unfolded, compared to the past?
A: No. Get up there, stack em up, talk about em and pick em. There’s nothing out of the ordinary.
Q: He was used as a linebacker in college?
A: 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. It’s not a true linebacker position. It’s just a hybrid safety/linebacker role.
Q: Can you see him doing that in the NFL?
MEDIA Q&A WITH HEAD COACH BEN MCADOO: (Video)
McAdoo: Darian Thompson, another good, smart player from a winning program, fortunate to have him, excited for him to get here.
Q: When you see 19 career interceptions, that must make your eyes light up a little?
A: Yeah, he is very instinctive. He has tremendous ball skills, but the instincts and the twitch make it happen for him.
Q: Is there a flip side to that? Sometimes a ball-hawking safety can be a gambling safety. Does he gamble sometimes?
A: I think it is more of instincts. He may have a little bit of a gambler in him, but I think it is more off of instincts.
Q: What is your role here with guys in the middle rounds? How much have you conversed with them?
A: It is more off of film study with Darian. I studied Darian on a couple different occasions with some film off of a point of attack tape and off of game film and he is someone that jumped out at me. High character guy, good ball skills, he can tackle in the open field and he plays in a variety of roles. He can play back in the post, he can play back in split safety looks and he can play down in the slot — he did that a lot in their fire zones.
Q: Jerry talked about there being a couple guys there with this pick. What differentiated Darian from those other picks?
A: Well, we had a cluster of guys there we were looking at. To me, the instincts, the twitch, very smart player, high character guy, fits what we are looking for that way and the ability to get the ball back to the offense and change the game that way. The game is about the ball and he can get the offense the ball.
Q: Are you hoping that if his skillset translates quickly enough that you can move Landon Collins more to strong safety?
A: We need to get them both in here and look at them. I think Landon had a nice camp this week. [He] did some nice things back deep and we feel that he is growing and doing a nice job there improving and I don’t think you can say always and never in this business.
Q: Is this any type of statement about the other guys you have at safety?
A: Oh, we have a lot of young guys in the safety mix and quite frankly, we haven’t seen them. They have been nicked up. They basically had a medical redshirt type year last year and it is good to get them back out there, they are working to get back out and get back out 100% so we are chomping at the bit to look at those guys and Darian is a guy we are going to throw into the mix and let them all compete.
Q: When you say he has a twitch, what do you mean?
A: He can stick his foot in the ground and go zero to sixty real quick.
Q: We saw Mykkele Thompson playing in the slot the other day. How much of that is planned for him and how much of that is because you guys are short on corners?
A: Probably a combination of both. We are going to look at guys in a variety of different roles. Mykklele is a guy who has played corner and has played safety and it is always nice to have some flexibility and versatility there.
Q: Is Darian as big as you are going to want him?
A: I think he is a pretty good size right now but I think that when they get here and they obviously have training table where they are coming from at Boise, but when they have a chance to get a little bit of money in their pocket and eat properly, their body composition usually changes a little bit.
Q: Can you use him perhaps as a surprise pass rusher?
A: We are going look at him in a variety of roles right there. I am not going to give you the keys to the kingdom as far as how he is going to show up on game day, but yeah, he is a versatile guy.
MEDIA Q&A WITH DARIAN THOMPSON:
Q: Darian, congratulations.
A: I appreciate that, thank you very much. I’m extremely blessed and excited to get out there and get to work.
Q: Are you at home right now?
A: I am, I’m in California—a little ways away, but I’m ready…I’m ready to make that trip.
Q: Where were you when you found out that you had been selected?
A: I’m back at home in Lancaster, California in the backyard at my girlfriend’s just wondering when the phone call was going to come through, and it happened. It’s truly a blessing and I’m extremely excited about it.
Q: How often did you meet with the Giants prior to tonight?
A: A couple of times, not too often. Not too often, but a couple of times. When I did, it went well. I’m excited that they pulled the trigger on me. I’m sure that they’re excited as well.
Q: If you had to summarize your skillset, what makes you unique from other candidates?
A: First of all, I’m an extremely smart football player. I know how to study film and diagnose plays and put myself in the right spot in order to make plays and make turnovers. I think that’s what I do best. I have a knack for the football, and I feel like an interception is just as much as a touchdown, so that’s what I’m going after.
Q: They used you in a lot of different ways when you were in college. Did you have a specific niche, if you will, out of all the things they asked you to do that you really liked?
A: No, not specific things that I liked. I honestly just like being out there on the field, being able to compete and have fun with the game that I love. So there’s no one thing that I liked over another, just being out there is perfectly fine with me.
Q: A lot of times when somebody gets picked, there’s maybe a veteran starter or somebody who’s already entrenched in that job. It seems like at this point it’s pretty wide open for you. What are your thoughts coming into this season and into camp once you get here?
A: Like I said, I’m extremely blessed to be there. When I get in there, have my best foot forward and just continue to work. I believe I have a great work ethic and nothing’s going to change from that, so whatever happens when I get there, it just happens. I’m excited; I’m going to give it all I have and see what happens when I get out there.
Q: Was that depth chart something that you noticed when the Giants called or when you were thinking about one of 32 landing spots?
A: It kind of didn’t really matter…because I know the type of player that I am. I know that I’m going to come in there and I’m going to work, regardless of whether there’s a veteran in front of me or not. I know I’ll be able to contribute to the team in multiple ways, so I was happy with that.
Q: Have you had a chance to watch the Giants in recent years?
A: I have had a chance to watch the Giants, and they’re always a good football team. To be able to get out there and play with some of those guys that we see all the time on TV and commercials and things like that, and to be a part of the team and to help them achieve their goal of winning the Super Bowl, is just awesome to me.
Q: You were at what is arguably the most renowned mid-major team in the country at Boise State. Can you talk about what it was like being with that team with the national spotlight on you guys? Can you talk about what is probably the biggest lesson you learned in your years with the Broncos?
A: Yeah, Boise State is a great program. Everybody on that team has a chip on their shoulder because they weren’t picked or chosen to go to a bigger school, so everybody has an attitude and everybody has a chip on their shoulder like I was talking about. I still have that chip. Regardless of where I would have gone tonight, or tomorrow, or whenever it would have been, I would have that chip. I’m just excited to bring it to New York. I’m excited to bring it to the Giants and to see what happens from there.
Q: How surprised were you that this ended up being the landing spot?
A: I was pretty surprised. Pretty surprised…and I’m happy. This is the one place I thought before the draft that I could end up, and I’m happy that it happened to be there.
Q: Why’d you think that?
A: Just agent talk and things of that sort. They say, “Maybe this, maybe that.” Nothing’s ever set in stone, and as we see, the draft can go in all different types of ways. I’m happy where I am now, I couldn’t be more excited. Like I said earlier, I’m just ready to get to work.