Rookie Darian Thompson eyes starting job

Posted Jun 7, 2016

Rookie Darian Thompson has been impressing coaches at OTAs: 

The Giants are set at quarterback on offense. Now they need another on defense.

One of the notable competitions underway at the Quest Diagnostics Training Center is at safety to play opposite Landon Collins. While the position wasn’t part of the Giants’ major defensive haul in free agency, they did draft Darian Thompson out of Boise State in the third round. Safeties coach David Merritt also has a trio of former draft picks coming back from injuries in Nat Berhe, Bennett Jackson and Mykkele Thompson.

Berhe began organized team activities (OTAs) on the top tandem with Collins, but with two practices remaining before next week’s mandatory minicamp, Darian Thompson has seen more and more time with the first team. And he’s making the most of his reps.


On Monday, he showed his range covering wide receiver Geremy Davis and forcing an incompletion on a deep throw by Eli Manning. Later in practice, he intercepted a pass during a simulated two-minute drill. But what impressed coach Ben McAdoo more was his intelligence to take a knee, knowing the turnover clinched the “victory” for a defense that struggled with late drives last season.  

“He had enough awareness to know that the game was over at that point in time with the offense only having one timeout and under 50 seconds; I believe that was what was on the
clock at that point on the tipped ball,” McAdoo said. “So he showed good awareness there. You can obviously feel the pass rush a little bit with the front and the secondary has good coverage, so that is encouraging.”

Added McAdoo: “D.T. is a guy who looks like he is comfortable in his skin. He can communicate well and we know he has good balls skills. That showed up in his stat line and on his film study and he is making the most of his opportunities.”

That should come as no surprise. Thompson is the Mountain West’s all-time interceptions leader. During rookie minicamp in early May, defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo singled Thompson out, praising him for barking out orders from the secondary.

“That’s the first thing I look for in a safety,” Spagnuolo said at the time. “Will you be loud? Are you not afraid to make a mistake? I think that’s huge and that stuck out a little bit. We’ve got a long way to go, though.”


As for his counterpart in the backfield, Collins is the elder statesman in the safeties room at the age of 22. The unanimous All-American out of Alabama was thrown into the fire in 2015, becoming the first rookie in franchise history to start 16 games at the position. On top of that, the defense was in its first year with Spagnuolo back at the helm.

So Collins knows what Thompson is going through.

“He’s done a great job coming in and knowing what he’s supposed to do,” Collins said. “Coach Merritt and Coach Spags have been doing a great job with him with key concepts and knowing what he’s supposed to do and he’s making correct calls when he’s out there on the field.

Last year when I came here, it was very hard because we all came to a new defense. Just making the right calls and stuff like that, now he’s definitely got a lot of help because a lot of us came from the same defense last year. So we’re definitely helping him out. Then just for him, just putting in the study and work that he’s doing, it’s a great thing seeing him doing it.”

Added Collins: “I definitely see the growth and him just wanting to be a better player and just be a very vocal player and just try to be a game-changer; that’s what he’s trying to do.”