Cardinals use fifth-round supplemental pick on DB Jalen Thompson, only player selected

Yahoo Sports

The Arizona Cardinals have used a fifth-round pick in the 2019 NFL supplemental draft on Washington State defensive back Jalen Thompson, according to NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero.

The Cardinals have now added depth to their secondary with Thompson, second-round CB Byron Murphy and Alabama S Deionte Thompson, who was a fifth-rounder back in April.

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Cornerback Patrick Peterson will be suspended a reported six games for PEDs to start the 2019 season, leaving the stability shaky on the back end early on. Interestingly, Jalen Thompson has been compared in some ways to current Cardinals DB Budda Baker.

Prior to Thompson getting measured and weighed by NFL scouts, there was a sense he could be picked anywhere between the third and fifth rounds on Wednesday. But with smaller-than-hoped dimensions of a shade over 5-foot-10 and 186 pounds at his NFL workout Monday, Thompson’s stock took a bit of a hit.

The Cardinals will now forfeit their fifth-round pick in the 2020 NFL draft next April.

Arizona held the fourth pick in each supplemental round, an order which was determined by a lottery that’s split up into three groups of teams: those with six or fewer victories last season; non-playoff teams with more than six wins; and playoff teams.

This is the third pick the Cardinals have used in the supplemental draft since its inception in 1976. They previously selected Washington State QB Timm Rosenbach with a first-round pick in 1988 and LSU tight end Willie Williams back in 1990.

Washington State safety Jalen Thompson celebrates an interception during the Alamo Bowl against Iowa State in 2018. (Getty Images)
Washington State safety Jalen Thompson celebrates an interception during the Alamo Bowl against Iowa State in 2018. (Getty Images)

Thompson was the only player selected on Wednesday. Four other players were eligible to be drafted — West Virginia WR Marcus Simms, Syracuse LB Shyheim Cullen, Northland (Minn.) TE Devonaire Clarington and St. Francis (Ill.) DB Bryant Perry — but they are all now free agents, able to sign with any club that has interest.

Simms is reportedly close to signing with the Jacksonville Jaguars, per Pelissero. A number of teams reportedly showed interest in the former Mountaineers receiver and returner.

The draft was conducted Wednesday electronically among the 32 NFL teams, starting a 1 p.m. EST. We wrote about how the process works in more depth here.

Jalen Thompson scouting report

Widely viewed as the best prospect of the five who declared for special entry into the NFL this summer, Thompson was roundly picked as a preseason all-Pac-12 selection heading into the summer before he lost his eligibility at the school.

This happened, according to the school, for “a violation of NCAA rules.” According to a Spokesman-Review report, Thompson purchased an over-the-counter supplement from a local nutrition store — a supplement that was not any type of steroid.

Thompson issued a statement thanking his coaches, teammates and fans, and several of his teammates reciprocated with heartfelt tweets. According to people familiar with the program with whom we’ve spoken, Thompson is well-liked and respected there. His loss is considered a big one for the school, as he was a possible All-America candidate this coming season.

Thompson started every game over the past three seasons for the Cougars, playing both safety spots as well as some cornerback in his college career. He was named All-Pac-12 honorable mention last season and was a freshman All-America pick in 2016, named second-team all-conference in 2017 and was almost unanimously listed to preseason college football publications’ first-team lists this summer before losing his eligibility.

Thompson’s size is a concern, and he plays with an aggressive, hard-hitting style, which compounds that worry a bit. Sometimes that quality works against him in other ways, too, as Thompson can be seen on tape whiffing on some tackles while trying to deliver big blows. He also could have trouble defending bigger receivers for jump balls.

But his athleticism is NFL-caliber, and Thompson’s versatility will make him an intriguing experiment. Can he handle nickel duties and play inside? It’s possible, even if he needs work in that department.

Thompson routinely was asked to cover tight ends, backs and slot receivers in man coverage, and he flashed some nice playmaking ability (six interceptions, 16 passes defended the past two seasons), quality makeup speed and good reaction skills and diagnostic ability. Over the past three seasons combined, Thompson has a combined 11 interceptions and fumbles recovered — tied for the most among Pac-12 defenders with Utah’s Chase Hansen.

At worst, Thompson adds nice depth at safety and carries the proper mentality to be a special-teams contributor (he forced a fumble on a kickoff return vs. Eastern Washington last season).

NFL teams watching Thompson work out at his makeshift pro day on Monday at Downey (Calif.) High School saw both the good (a 40-yard dash time as low as 4.46 seconds and a 6.98-second three-cone drill) and the bad (average to below-average numbers in other testing drills, plus the measurements, which put him on the lower end of the size spectrum).

Without the same prep time as draft prospects who spend months adding strength and shaving time off their drills, Thompson’s performance must be graded on a slight scale. He was considered one of the fastest Cougars players heading into this season before he left the program.

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