Yahoo Sports' top 2019 NFL draft prospects: Alabama S Deionte Thompson

Yahoo Sports
(AP Photo)
(AP Photo)

6-foot-1, 195 pounds

The lowdown: Thompson emerged early last season as an eye-opening playmaker in a Bama secondary that has churned out NFL talent over the past several years, carrying over the impressive performances he turned in against Clemson and Georgia in the college football playoffs as an injury replacement for Hootie Jones. By the end of the 2018 season, however, Thompson’s evaluation clouded quite a bit, although he felt comfortable enough with his grade from the NFL underclassman advisory committee because he declared following his redshirt junior season despite starting full time for only one year.

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Thompson was named first-team All-American and first-team All-SEC in 2018, with 79 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss, two interceptions, six pass breakups and four forced fumbles in 15 games. He’s a lean-built playmaker and risk taker, and there are enough highs in his 2018 performance to suggest he could be a very good single-high safety in time. Thompson is aggressive, possesses ball skills and a physical element to his game that routinely shows up.

His two games in the college football playoffs showed a gambler who sometimes takes the cheese from talented deep-ball throwers and eye-manipulators. Both Oklahoma’s Kyler Murray in the semifinal and Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence found ways to use Thompson’s aggressiveness against him, leading Thompson to make some poor decisions and lose coverage. He also carries durability concerns with his thin lower body and sometimes reckless style crashing down into traffic.

With the right coaching and patience, Thompson should develop into an instinctive playmaker in the mold of former Jacksonville Jaguars first-rounder Reggie Nelson or Tampa Bay Buccaneers second-rounder Justin Evans.

Thompson always will be around the ball, but his overall game needs refinement.

Fun fact: Deionte attended the same high school as his mother, Pamela, who was a star preps basketball player. She later played hoops and ran track at Wiley College in Texas, and Deionte said last year that she remains the best athlete in the family, even though his father also played baseball at Wiley.

“I had to live up to her standards,” he told The Athletic in September. “So that’s kind of what drove me through high school to always live up to her and try to get to state in just about every sport that I did because that’s exactly what she did.”

Draft range: Round 2

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