In the 2016 NFL draft, the New York Giants selected safety Darian Thompson in the third round. At the time, many believed Thompson should have gone in the early second round and felt the Giants got a future star one round later. Thompson certainly didn’t disappoint the Giants organization in rookie camp as he excelled on the field, displaying not only his athletic ability; but also his leadership qualities as well. Unfortunately, Thompson sustained a season-ending injury and missed the entire 2016 season. Entering the 2017 season, Thompson was fully healthy and ready to reclaim his starting spot beside Landon Collins. Undrafted rookie Andrew Adams filled in for Thompson and was not about to hand over the position.
Eventually, Thompson outlasted Adams and resumed his starting position as the Giants free safety in 2017. Unfortunately for Thompson, his performance declined like many players on the defensive side and entering the 2018 season he needs to reestablish himself from the start. This season will be much more difficult for him as there will be several candidates who are fully capable of taking his starting role away. This includes Michael Thomas and Andrew Adams. Also, consider the added depth of undrafted free agents Aaron Davis, Sean Chandler and Grant Haley, who have all impressed the coaching staff during rookie camp.
Thompson will need to have an outstanding training camp and improve on his tackling, which was horrendous in 2017. There’s no question that the ability and talent level is there for Thompson, he just needs to put it all together while staying healthy in the process. Having this much depth at the safety position for the Giants is a luxury as historically the injury bug has hit the secondary more often than any other position for the Giants. The versatility of a couple of the UDFA players mentioned above — some can play cornerback and special teams as well as safety — could play a factor on deciding who makes the 53-man roster.
This position should be one of the most interesting ones to watch as training camp progresses for the Giants. The team's staff will welcome a healthy and productive Thompson back into the fold and play at the level they believe he is capable of. Defensive coordinator James Bettcher is a big fan of Thompson and has already proclaimed he believes Thompson has all the tools to be a top free safety in the league. For now, Thompson is penciled in as the starting safety alongside Landon Collins, but it’s up to him to hold onto to it and regain his level of play he displayed in his rookie season.