The 2019 NFL Supplemental Draft featured only one pick: Washington State safety Jalen Thompson was selected by the Cardinals in the fifth round.
Here’s how Thompson fits with his new team.
Cardinals select Jalen Thompson in Round 5
Arizona has undergone one of the fastest roster overhauls I can remember under new head coach Kliff Kingsbury, and Thompson brings more versatile talent to what’s quickly become an underrated secondary and safety group.
Last week, it was reported he took an over-the-counter supplement banned by the NCAA, which led to him losing his final year of college eligibility in 2020., and while that was strictly based on his film, his off-field issues don’t appear to be hugely concerning, as
At his pro day workout, Thompson measured in just over 5-foot-10 and 186 pounds, and his lack of size is the main ding I have on him as a prospect. He ran a 4.47 and 4.56 in the 40-yard dash, had a 33.5-inch vertical, and a 6.98 three-cone drill. The latter of those times would’ve been the sixth-fastest among all safeties at the 2019 NFL Combine. He has cornerback-like man coverage skills, twitchy athleticism, an aggressive nature when ranging all over the field in run support, and plus ball skills, as evidenced by his 10 pass breakups and six interceptions over the past two seasons with the Cougars.
The Cardinals’ full-time safety rotation that began the 2018 season featured small, do-everything safety Budda Baker, unheralded free-agent signee Tre Boston, and veteran Antoine Bethea. Baker and Bethea combined for five pass breakups and no picks. Boston hauled in three picks and defended nine throws. Decent collective production.
Now, headlining the group is offseason acquisition D.J. Swearinger, a soon-to-be 28 year old once strictly known for his thumping style who’s slowly become of the league’s best all-around safeties, 2019 fifth-round selection Deionte Thompson, who flashed serious range at Alabama last year, Baker, and Jalen Thompson, the supplemental pick.
Believe it or not, the Cardinals actually finished 8th in Football Outsiders’ pass defense DVOA last year, and have smartly placed an emphasis on acquiring safeties with versatile skills, as the majority of safeties in the today’s NFL must take on cornerback duties on a relatively regular basis. It’s morphing into a position-less league.
Thompson has a cornerback frame, cornerback coverage skills, a plus ability to play the football in the air, and he’s not afraid to make his presence felt against the run, although he’ll occasionally get washed out due to his lack of size and strength.
With the pick, the Cardinals will forfeit one of the two fifth-round picks they had in the 2020 NFL Draft — one was added in the Josh Rosen trade — but get a quality defensive back with refined talent tailored ideally for the safety spot in the modern NFL.