Jalen Thompson Pegged by Pro Football Focus as Most Underrated Cardinal
Despite a massive defensive overhaul fulfilling Arizona Cardinals general manager Steve Keim's goal to provide coordinator Vance Joseph with a much-improved overall unit, the franchise's safety room remains untouched.
Much of that is thanks to budding star Budda Baker. Yet, Pro Football Focus tabs Jalen Thompson as a key cog for the unit this next season. In fact, they listed him as the most underrated player on the entire Cardinals' roster.
Thompson spent most of his rookie season playing in the back end at free safety. He received a 70.3 PFF coverage grade, which ranked third among rookie safeties last year behind only Kansas City Chief Juan Thornhill and the Green Bay Packer Darnell Savage.
"What he did as a rookie (particularly late in the year), combined with what we saw from Thompson at the college level, offers plenty of reason for excitement about his prospects moving forward," PFF's Ben Linsey wrote.
Thompson finished the 2019 season with 57 tackles, three passes defended, one interception and one fumble recovery in 15 games and nine starts.
A fifth-round compensatory pick to the Cardinals out of Washington State, Thompson has already developed into a legitimate NFL coverage defender. The value he has added for his selection spot in the draft is most recognized since receiving the best grade in that category of any starter in 2019.
"He's not even 22 years old yet," Linsey wrote. "His continued development will be key on a defense that hopes to be much better in coverage in 2020."
Considering the Cardinals were the only team to make a selection in the NFL’s 2019 Supplemental Draft, it seems as though that decision paid off.
“JT … once the game came to him, it was so remarkable to see him flourish,” cornerback Patrick Peterson said on a videoconference with reporters Thursday. “And to see him start to talk, and to see his confidence level go through the roof through the back end of the season as well.”