Tariq Thompson - S, San Diego State
By the numbers:
6'0", 200 pounds.
2020: 41 tackles (1.5 for loss), three passes broken up and one interception in eight games played.
Tariq Thompson is an NFL-ready safety prospect with a high football IQ. He routinely got his San Diego State teammates in position, regardless of where he lined up. He's a versatile player who spent time in the box and the slot in addition to his usual free safety alignment. Thompson has elite instincts and four years of starting experience under his belt.
Production was aplenty for Thompson in college. He broke up 23 passes, intercepted another 11 and forced five fumbles. He closes hard on the ball and is disruptive in coverage. He makes plays all over the field and is a remarkably consistent player. Thompson was a rare college defensive back whose stats accurately represented his impact on the field as a sound coverage option, run defender and overall playmaker.
One of the main downsides with Thompson is his limited athleticism. He plays a physical brand of football and has fluid hips in coverage, but his long speed is slower than desired. His smarts and anticipatory skills help a bit, although they aren't enough to completely alleviate the issue. Covering slot receivers in college was a suitable assignment for Thompson but in the NFL, that may not always be the case.
Sometimes, Thompson bites off a bit more than he can chew. His tackling technique could use some refinement, especially if he's going to spend more time in the box at the next level. He's comfortable with hand fighting in coverage, but honing his approach in man scenarios will be paramount. Maintaining proper spacing against faster receivers and winning the leverage battle against bigger tight ends are areas in which he can improve.
How Thompson fits with the Chiefs:
The Chiefs are slated to have one of the league's better safety tandems in Tyrann Mathieu and Juan Thornhill. Beyond that, Daniel Sorensen is back on a one-year contract. Thompson's IQ would play well with the Chiefs, as would his experience as a special teams player. He can fill a variety of roles and is a good fit as an eventual Sorensen replacement whenever his name is called. Versatility is as important in today's NFL as it ever has been, and Thompson offers plenty of it.
Thompson is an extremely bright prospect who should immediately help whatever team drafts him. He's a proven player capable of doing several different things on the field. He's likely close to hitting his ceiling but as a probable Day 3 pick, adding an instant-impact special teamer and situational defensive back is about as good of a deal as teams can get. Thompson grades out as a fourth-round pick who could be a reliable nickel package option as early as year one.