2019 NFL Draft Prospect Rankings: Alabama's Deionte Thompson emerging as elite safety prospect
After playing sparingly in 2017, the Crimson Tide safety has been a play-making machine early in 2018
Alabama reloads like no other.
In 2017, safety Deionte Thompson appeared in nine games and played fewered than 250 snaps on defense for the Crimson Tide.
He's moved into a featured role on the defense, mostly playing the difficult single high safety spot and has been a turnover machine. In three games, the redshirt junior has two interceptions -- both of which showcased his immense range -- and though not officially credited with a forced fumble against Ole Miss, he was one of two defenders who hit quarterback Jordan Ta'amu before he lost the football.
More than his burgeoning coverage ability, Thompson can be spotted routinely flying downhill to make his presence felt against the run. He has 15 tackles and 1.5 tackles for loss entering Alabama's fourth game.
Here's my updated Top 20 prospect list after Week 3 in college football.
1. Nick Bosa, DE, Ohio State
Before he went down with a groin injury, Bosa was a game-changer against TCU. No surprise. His strip sack in the end zone gave the Buckeyes six points, and he generated a handful of other pressures on the Horned Frogs quarterback. I'll certainly be monitoring his injury -- which isn't believed to be super serious -- but Bosa has a firm grasp on the top spot.
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One tackle for loss and six tackles for Oliver against Texas Tech in a shootout everyone saw coming. Oliver does look to have taken a step forward as a pass rusher, I just need to see him create more havoc on pass plays for him to stay in the No. 2 spot.
3. Jonah Williams, OT, Alabama
Without much of an outside pass-rush from Ole Miss, Williams was unsurprisingly boring yet exhilarating to watch ... depending on your overarching thoughts on scouting offensive linemen. He was dominant both in pass protection and when paving lanes for Damien Harris, Najee Harris and Co. in the Crimson Tide's demolition of the Trebels. Well-balanced. Strong. Fast kick slide. On-target punches. Williams is about as fundamentally sound as it gets.
4. Dre'Mont Jones, DT, Ohio State
His interception was an important splash play for Ohio State's defense, and I watched Jones create an impressive amount of power with his hands after engaging TCU offensive linemen. His swim and push-pull moves are among the best, if not the best, in the entire country among interior pass-rushers. He even put a nasty spin move on film.
5. Clelin Ferrell, DE, Clemson
Ferrell had two sacks against Georgia Southern, and one came on a play when he disengaged from the left tackle and used his length to take down the quarterback as he tried to scramble outside the pocket. Ferrell is a traits guy. I love that Brent Venables utilizes him from a four-point stance out wide, so his burst can be accentuated.
6. Greg Little, OT, Ole Miss
It wasn't the finest performance of Little's career against Alabama, but he was far from a liability. He had some problems with budding star Quinnen Williams, a long, powerful redshirt sophomore with active hands in the run game. In pass protection, Little was sound as usual.
7. N'Keal Harry, WR, Arizona State
Harry was held in relative check against San Diego State until he had three receptions on one drive in the second half before catching a fade in the end zone for his his fourth receiving score of the year. Despite being 6-foot-4, Harry glides down the field and in and out of his route stems, which leads to him creating more separation than the average "big" receiver. He's done nothing in 2018 to change the A.J. Green vibe I got from him while watching his film from a season ago.
8. Greedy Williams, CB, LSU
Williams had an interception on what potentially was a miscommunication between Jarrett Stidham and his wideout and otherwise was a blanket in coverage. Auburn was limited to just 198 yards passing through the air. Williams boasts an awesome size, length, and athleticism combination.
9. A.J. Brown, WR, Ole Miss
Brown wasn't blanked in the loss to Alabama, yet he didn't have a major impact on the game that got out of hand in a hurry. There's still plenty to like about his game ... his length, his strong hands, and his innate ability to flourish after the catch.
Lock was tremendous against Purdue. He went 26 of 43 for 375 yards with three touchdowns and an interception and consistently showcased next-level pocket patience behind his offensive line as he scanned the field and fired rockets all over the field. His interception was a bad underthrow on a scramble, but other than that, he was a point guard in the win, and his arm strength was a huge luxury on a plethora of throws. He did fall victim to a drop on a downfield dime early too.
11. Deandre Baker, CB, Georgia
According to Pro Football Focus, Baker "has allowed a passer rating of just 33.2 into his coverage and he has two interceptions and two pass breakups." Basically, when I've watched the veteran cornerback this season, he's barely been a part of the action, as he's been busy locking down the opposition's top wide receiver.
12. Deionte Thompson, S, Alabama
Thompson was a difference-maker for the second time in three games thus far in 2018. He ranged from the right side of the field to the far hash -- as he rotated to the deep middle at the snap -- for a high-pointing interception to open the field gates in Alabama's 62-7 victory in Oxford, Mississippi. Thompson had a near interception early in the second too on a play nullified by an offensive holding call. Thompson's twitchiness and acceleration lead to impressive range, and he's a willing run-stopper.
13. Ryan Finley, QB, NC State
14. Jeffrey Simmons, DT, Mississippi State
Simmons can get stuck on blocks a little too long for my liking, and he can play high, but overall, he looks like a well-rounded defensive tackle who can win with pass-rushing moves and sheer power. Early in the game against Louisiana, he showed off a nice anchor, slide, and shed to make a tackle at the line of scrimmage against the run. The swim move and bull rush were on display too. He's a fun player to watch.
15. Dexter Lawrence, DT, Clemson
It was more about the collective Clemson defense than any one individual effort in the win over Georgia Southern, but I did see what's become the typical quick sheds and scrapes down the line from Lawrence, and his brute strength was noticeable as well...which is always the case.
16. Brian Burns, DE, Florida State
Burns cramped up during Florida State's stunning loss to Syracuse, but I noticed more refined hand usage at the point of attack when getting after the quarterback and when setting the edge against the run. If his skill set continues to trend upward, with his length and inherent athleticism, Burns could be a top 10 pick.
17. Anthony Johnson, WR, Buffalo
Buffalo's offense is one of the best in the country, and Johnson's the star wideout with a complete skill set. But he was overshadowed by fellow pass-catcher K.J. Osborn's three scores in the seven-point win over a solid Eastern Michigan team.
18. Jerry Tillery, DT, Notre Dame
Through three games, Tillery has consistently utilized a heavy-handed club move and a nice push-pull-rip as a pass rusher. He's tall, and not exactly the twitchiest athlete for the interior defensive line position yet has demonstrated a decently fast burst off the snap.
19. Rashan Gary, DL, Michigan
Gary flashed a powerful swipe move and actually showed some bend and lean around the edge in Michigan's win over SMU. His athleticism will always impress me. I just need to see more of a plan when attacking offensive tackles as an edge rusher.
20. JJ Arcega-Whiteside, WR, Stanford
Arecega-Whiteside had two more Ben Wallacian box-out touchdowns over the weekend, and it's more unusual if JAWS doesn't have at least one of these scores in a game. Just three grabs and 36 yards for Arcega-Whiteside, but he clearly can drastically alter a game even if he doesn't rack up loads of yardage.
Te'von Coney, LB, Notre Dame, Dalton Risner, OT, Kansas State, Marquise Brown, WR, Oklahoma, Devin White, LB, LSU, Amani Oruwariye, CB, Penn State, David Montgomery, RB, Iowa State, Justin Herbert, QB, Oregon, D.K. Metcalf, WR, Ole Miss, T.J. Edwards, LB, Wisconsin, Montez Sweat, EDGE, Mississippi State, Damien Harris, RB, Alabama, Bobby Evans, OT, Oklahoma
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