Easily one of the must-watch prospects from the 2012 NFL draft class, free safety Christian Thompson comes from little-known South Carolina State boasting impressive intangibles, measurables and potential that could enable him to become one of the best defensive players in the NFL.
What the Experts Are Saying
Bunting has had a lot of nice things to say about the 6’0", 211-pound safety, which is certainly a positive coming from the highly-respected director of college scouting for NFP. He clearly liked what he saw of Thompson during the East-West Shrine Game:
He possesses a long, lean frame, can cleanly turn out of his transition and has solid speed when trying to run with speedy receivers from the slot…he’s a good athlete who can run, change directions and overall is the one safety on the East roster who has made a solid impression on me.
Though he flew up draft boards, the small-school prospect does have some knocks on him that could be of concern. According to NFL.com:
Thompson is raw and hasn't played against top talent in college. He struggles at times in zone and can look out of sorts. He is not reliable to catch the ball, although he is around it often. He doesn't have speed that translates to the field when he is in pursuit; he needs to rely on his footwork more than he does at the current time so that he doesn't get out of position and have to chase at the next level.
[He] does get a bit leggy at times and doesn’t have a great feel recognizing routes in man. And despite putting himself in position to make a number of plays today, he didn’t due to his struggles initially locating the football.
What to Expect
Thompson enters the NFL capable of covering big, fast tight ends. Further, his value could be understated, according to NFL.com, considering the influx of athletic tight ends that has quickly changed the face of many teams’ passing attacks.
He is still a raw talent and will need time to develop, but could step in and play from day one.
With Antonio Allen still on the board maybe this a bit of a surprising pick, but the Ravens definitely addressed a need with this pick. Based on Ozzie Newsome's track record, this was probably the right pick.