Scouting report on: Alabama S Deionte Thompson

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Deionte Thompson is a 6’1″ 195 lbs safety out of Alabama.

Here’s what I saw on tape:

Had real issues in zone diagnosing passing concepts. No anticipating at all, definitely a reactor, most of the times reacting to plays after they’ve already happened. Lacks the feel for route combination developments. Eyes are all over the place, very undisciplined. Poor peripheral vision, loses sight of what’s going on around him. Takes wrong steps. Prone to bite on underneath routes while a deeper route’s getting open behind him. Saw that on numeral occasions. Example: Dig/Post combos.

Designed to try and bait the safety into biting on the dig route while the post is getting open behind him. He did offenses that favor. Bit on double moves like corner post routes. Unsure and taking way too long to read his keys. Reacting oftentimes when it’s too late and a big play has already transpired. Could stand to take better angles. Passing concepts designed to create high/low conundrums or stretch the safeties horizontally worked very well against him because he didn’t recognize route concepts and their development quickly enough.

What’s frustrating about all that is the fact that from a physical standpoint, he could absolutely be a very good safety. He’s explosive and fast. Change of direction is excellent. Gets out of pedal breaks quickly. He’s definitely physically able to cover a lot of ground. He possesses the range required to play center fielder. Long arms and big hands made to contest the football upon arrival. But like I’ve said a million times before, it doesn’t matter when you don’t have the instincts to go with it.

You can be the greatest athlete in the world, but if you don’t understand where you have to be and how to position yourself, you don’t get to take advantage of your physical tools and it’s all worth absolutely nothing. Not only did those poor instincts result in him not making many big plays but they also yielded him giving up long TDs and big plays on way too many occasions. Teams that had good QBs on their roster even picked on him.

On the bright side, there were instances where he showed what it would look like if he combined his elite level athleticism with good reads consistently. There were plays where I saw him break up a seam route in cover 3. Plays where he was the single high and went over all the way to the sideline to help a corner defend a go route. There was a play against Arkansas where a guy was wide open on the left side of the field and Thompson flew over there all the way from the other side of the field. He closed the gap, that seemed like it couldn’t be closed in time, in a hurry and broke up the pass. Only a select few would’ve even been able to physically make that play.

I liked him in cover 1 situations, where he didn’t have to worry about route concepts and who he’s going to have to pick up as much, as everyone else was manned up and he could just follow the ball with his eyes. He does do a good job of tracking it in the air when he can solely focus on that and his range is excellent. He can make plays when you put him in spots like that.

Man coverage is not something you’re going to want to put Thompson in on too many snaps. He struggled in man, mostly because of technique or a lack thereof. Footwork wasn’t good and he took too long to recognize route breaks.
Again, physically you look at him and you think to yourself he should be able to handle those tasks. Technique is certainly something that can be worked on and improved.

He is a big heavy hitter. Loves to lower the boom and be physical. Sets the tone with big hits. That of course also translates well to the run defense. Filled his gaps quickly. Could stand to take better angles sometimes here as well though he was smart in that department most of the times. Being tasked as a force/cutback player setting the edge and being the alley safety is definitely something he can be trusted with. Very good tackler, who finishes all the way through. Doesn’t matter if it’s around the line of scrimmage or in the open field, he’s a secure, physical tackler.

Projection:

The lack of instincts and the number of plays he gives up should be reasons for concern. He does have all the physical tools you’re looking for in a safety, especially the range but in order to make the most out of his skill set, he has to do a better job being disciplined and recognizing route combos quicker. Instincts can only be enhanced and improved to a certain degree, you either possess a feel for the game or you don’t so that is a giant red flag. What can be worked on is eye discipline. Reading keys quicker.

Watching film to know every route concept like the back of your hand, aiding in speeding up the recognition process. If he’s able to combine his physical tools and his range with quick reads and anticipation constantly as I was referring to in the segment above, he can become a good safety. If he doesn’t and keeps playing the way he played at Bama, taking wrong steps and losing track of routes developing around him, he can’t be trusted as a safety back there no matter if you’re talking single high or as a half-field safety in middle of the field open coverages.

Given those facts and concerns in some of the most important aspects of a safety’s game, I don’t think he’s worthy of a 1st round selection. He’s going to be drafted based on projection and hoping he can improve the areas I just listed. Since he does possess the physical skill set and is able to make all the plays from a physical standpoint, on top of him having showcased in some instances that he is capable of combining that with good reads, I do think he is someone I might consider in the 2nd round and definitely in the 3rd.