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NFL Draft

2021 NFL Draft Scouting Report: LB Erroll Thompson

  • The Draft Network
  • February 1, 2021
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PROSPECT SUMMARY – ERROLL THOMPSON

Erroll Thompson is a top-heavy, old-school, thumper type of MIKE (middle) linebacker. Thompson loves physicality and would stick his head in barbed wire if that was the case to get to the ball. Fearless with sticking his head in the action, he brings lots of physicality to ball-carriers and it’s often that they are knocked cleanly backward when experiencing hits from him. In his game, there’s little hesitancy with his pursuit to the ball. When diagnosing plays cleanly, he flies to the ball as quickly as possible. Seen as the leader of the defense, he’s often seen relaying calls, checks, and helping others who are misaligned on certain plays prior to the snap. On plays in between the tackles that involve lead blockers, he makes them buckle up their chin straps and bite down on their mouthpieces. That’s the level of physicality that he brings to the table. While evaluators will love to see the physical portions of his playing style, his aggressiveness/urgency can often get him in trouble against play-action passes. Thompson is often influenced too easily by fakes and he doesn’t have the natural athleticism to recover from early misjudgments. In coverage, he can be a bit of a fish out of water in that all of his movements and drops don’t look fluid. He’s more of a grass dropper and the areas that he’s designed to go to, he will do exactly that without having the awareness of what routes are entering/exiting his zone areas.

Ideal Role: Developmental MIKE or JACK linebacker in a 3-4 defensive front.

Scheme Fit: MIKE or JACK linebacker in a three-man defensive front.

FILM EVALUATION

Written by Jordan Reid

Games watched: Vanderbilt (2020), LSU (2020), Alabama (2020), Arkansas (2020), Ole Miss (2020)

Best Game Studied: Vanderbilt (2020)

Worst Game Studied: Kentucky (2020)

Tackling: As the man in the middle, Thompson was a reliable tackler that used his wide frame well. Even though he lacked adequate length, he was able to put his body structure to good use as it packed plenty of force behind it. When coming into contact with ball-carriers, he was able to bring them down as a result. 

Football IQ/Instincts: Against the run, Thompson is a heady prospect that is aware of pullers. He’s able to use them as a guide on where the ball may be headed, but he’s able to finish when arriving at those locations. Trusting what he sees in front of him, Thompson attacks the first level with lots of intensity. In pass coverage, he still hasn’t developed the concept of feeling out where routes are headed. He still remains a liability in that area as a result. 

Competitive Toughness: This is an area that hardly ever will be questioned with him. He packs a powerful strike when his body is exposed to runners. Listed at 250 pounds, the momentum from his body reflects every pound of that as ball-carriers feel a jolt. Also a vocal player, Thompson’s competitiveness is notable on tape.    

Pass Coverage Ability: This is the department where he will have to make his biggest strides, as he hasn’t developed the understanding of what and where passing concepts are attempting to attack. Because of his athletic limitations outside of the box, his eyes and feet can often be tied together when in zone coverage. At this stage of his career, Thompson can’t be relied upon in man coverage because of his lack of directional change mobility. 

Run Defending: Providing plenty of value as a run defender, Thompson sees the box well. Well coached at the determining factors of what should make him trigger downhill on runs, he’s a free-flowing player that crashes the first level. Trusting his eyes and instincts, he’s often met ball-carriers in the hole for minimal gains. 

Block Deconstruction: Because of his mobility challenges, there are few pathways that Thompson can take to avoid climbing blockers. The one that he’s chosen most consistently is to attack the midline of those coming directly at him. With shorter arms, a maxed-out frame, and limited athleticism, he elects to turn it into a physical battle, which is a fight that he knows he has a chance at winning more consistently. 

Lateral Mobility: Lacking range outside of the tackle boxes, plays become increasingly challenging the further to the exterior that they become. Turning and running can be an uphill battle that he struggles to win as he seems to be much more comfortable when being able to stay within the comfy confines between the tackles. 

Flexibility: Not incorporated often within his game, he plays with lots of straight-up mannerisms. The high play results in him having high pad levels that can make him a target that’s easy for blockers to connect on. His lack of flexibility is also evident in pass coverage, as he can’t occupy multiple areas without stuttering his feet effect targets that are entering his zones.

Leadership: Seen as the leader of the Mississippi State unit, he was also a two-time team captain. Based on quotes from his peers and coaching staff, there hasn’t been a bad word uttered about him since stepping foot on campus. His ability to connect and adapt is also notable. 

Versatility: Right now, Thomspon is predominantly a two-down player that thrives on running situations. His ability to attack and run through first-level alleys with little fear is notable, but his deficiencies against the pass are also one that will drastically need to be improved upon.

SCOUT GRADES

TDN Consensus: To Be Determined

Jordan Reid: 65/100

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