We have entered the quiet parts of the NFL offseason. Free agency and the draft are behind us, while minicamp and training camp won't start until next week and late July, respectively. However, while the football world seemingly turns slower these days it does not stop.
After all, until the late-August's roster cuts, players need to have secured their spots on the team. Over the course of the next few months, we will take a look at the men fighting for them on the 2017 New England Patriots. 53 of currently 90 players will be asked to help the team defend its Super Bowl title.
Today, we’ll continue the series with one of the team’s undrafted safeties.
Name: Jason Thompson
Position: Strong safety / Special teamer
Jersey number: 26
Opening day age: 23
Size: 6’2, 210 lbs.
2016 review: Prior to the 2015 season, one year after transferring from Wyoming to Utah, Thompson switched positions from quarterback to safety (a position he also played in hight school). However, he saw only marginal playing time on defense. Instead, Thompson played primarily on special teams – and 2016 was no different.
Overall, he appeared in 13 games over the course of his senior season and finished with a combined eight tackles as well as one fumble recovery. Thompson also served as a special teams captain for Utah. However, he did not get picked in last month’s draft and instead was signed by the Patriots as a rookie free agent.
2017 preview: Receiving a guaranteed $3,500, Thompson will be given a chance to compete for a spot on New England’s active roster or practice squad. He will have to beat out three other undrafted safeties – David Jones, Dwayne Thomas, Damarius Travis – as well as third-year man Jordan Richards to do that.
Thompson’s biggest assets are his athleticism and positional versatility, which allow him to play both safety spots as well as linebacker. Another plus is the special teams experience he brings to the table. However, to earn a spot on the Patriots’ pay roll he probably has to do more than leave a mark in the kicking game.
The 23-year old likely also has to prove himself capable of playing on the defensive side of the ball; something that has not happened during his collegiate career. If he surprises on defense and is his solid self on special teams, Thompson will put himself in a solid position to either make the team as a sixth safety or, more likely, earn a spot on the practice squad.