Kansas State’s Skylar Thompson is one of the most experienced quarterbacks available in the 2022 NFL Draft. Thompson departs the Wildcats program as the all-time record holder in several statistical categories. The Independence, Missouri native appeared in a healthy 45 games and is the only quarterback in program history to record 6,000 passing yards and 1,000 rushing yards throughout his collegiate career. His dual-threat skill set is very much in demand at the next level.
Thompson recently spoke exclusively with The Draft Network regarding his combine performance and experience, the electric numbers he put up at Kansas State, how his collegiate career prepared him for the next level, and a whole lot more.
JM: I thought you had your best season in 2021. Your completion percentage jumped to 69.5%, which was easily the highest mark of your career. How did you become a more accurate quarterback this past season?
ST: I think there’s a lot that went into that. I was on the same page as my receivers. I had another offseason to work with them. More importantly, I was coming off an injury that cut my 2020 campaign short. I had a lot of time to reflect and improve. I spent that time diving deeper into our playbook. I began understanding the ins and outs of every concept.
I understood the mission of each play. That allowed me to understand where my check-down was. It gave me a contingency plan going into every play no matter the situation. I was prepared for pressure and all outcomes. Whatever the case may be, I had a better understanding of where my outlet throw was.
All of that contributed to the uptick we witnessed in my completion percentage. My receivers did a great job this year as well. They got open for me and made plays with the ball in their hands. It was definitely a group effort, it wasn’t just me. It was something we hoped to achieve in our offense. We wanted to be a more efficient and effective offense and a big part of that is having a high completion percentage. It was a big goal of mine going into the season. It helped our team win games. We were able to do that.
JM: It shows on tape. You depart the Wildcats program after making 40 career stats. How do you feel that experience will serve you at the next level?
ST: It gives me a ton of experience, that’s for sure. You name it, I’ve experienced it and seen it over the years. I’ve been in every situation that you can possibly think of in a football game. I’ve played in and led my team to big-time upsets over Oklahoma. We won a lot of games over big-time programs. I’ve also been beaten by teams that we probably shouldn’t have lost to. All of those experiences add to my repertoire.
I’ve experienced it all and I understand how to bounce back when the chips don’t fall your way. I’ve mastered the art of being the same person and staying true to myself through every high and low. That’s a key part to playing the quarterback position. You have to remain even-keeled. You can’t live life on a rollercoaster. All of that adds to my experiences and I’m a better quarterback because of it. It adds value as I prepare to take this next step into the league.
JM: It certainly adds experience and value. You recently participated in the NFL Scouting Combine. What do you think you proved to general managers, coaches, and scouts in attendance?
ST: I believe I proved that I’m an accurate passer. I proved that I have fluid and calm feet that time up well with the routes I was asked to throw. The biggest part for me was to get in front of people. It gave me an opportunity to throw the football in front of scouts, general managers, and coaches. I think it was really important for them to watch me throw in person.
I believe I have a much stronger arm than what people give me credit for. I believe I’m also more accurate than what people give me credit for. Being able to get in front of NFL decision-makers, to be able to throw the ball in front of them, that was huge for me. How I operate and interact with people adds value to my abilities as a quarterback. I’m a natural leader. I believe the combine gave me a perfect opportunity to showcase what I’m going to bring to an NFL organization.
JM: You threw the ball well. You’re a dual-threat quarterback with a ton of rushing yards under your belt. Does that give you confidence as you prepare to enter the NFL?
ST: It definitely does. Teams love a quarterback that can use his legs to extend the pocket and run for first downs. The game’s been evolving in that direction for quite some time now. It’s an ability of mine, but it’s not something that I rely on. In all honesty, I feel like I showcased that throughout this past season.
I was battling a lower-leg injury that really helped me prove that I don’t rely on my legs. They’re just another asset to my game. I really grew in that area throughout 2021. I’ve been consistently getting better.
I can admit that I relied on my legs a lot throughout the early portion of my career. I would get through the first two of my progressions and if it wasn’t there, I would tuck it and run. It benefited me on some occasions and hurt me on others. If it went wrong, it’s because it caused me to miss a touchdown pass that was available if I got to my third and fourth reads. I changed that this past season. I was more comfortable going through all of my progressions. I didn’t rely on my legs in 2021. It’s just another asset to my game. You have to make plays at the end of the day.
There’s always going to be plays where the secondary is going to win and cover everything up. Being able to have the legs and athletic ability that I do to extend plays and keep the chains moving is one of the goals for my position. I believe it adds value to what I do.
JM: Ironically, that lower-leg injury may have helped you. It proved that you’re not a one-dimensional quarterback that can only rely on his legs. What were some of the responsibilities you held at the line of scrimmage?
ST: I had a lot of responsibilities at the line of scrimmage. We were a west coast offense. That’s the scheme we ran. That places a lot of responsibilities on the quarterback. I controlled all of our pass protections and the directions we were sliding. I had the ability to change and override the slide if we had to pick up a blitz. I did all of those things in our passing game. I also had the ability to check into plays at the line of scrimmage, both in the passing and running game. It depended on our game plan.
Going into every week, if we had a certain play that we wanted to run if we received a certain pressure look, that responsibility fell on my shoulders. I had to get us into those plays. We also had some double running game calls. We’d call two run plays and I’d basically check into the correct play at the line of scrimmage based on what defensive front we were facing. We made a decision based on the look we received from the defense. I could always kill the first play call and audible to the second one. I did all of that.
In the passing game, I had the ability to change concepts based on the coverage. I got us into some good situations to be successful. All of those responsibilities were on my shoulders and I feel well prepared as I make the transition to the next level. I’ve been speaking with a ton of pro scouts and coaches and we’ve gone through these things. We discussed our offense and how I led the group. I’ve been learning their offenses throughout this process. The terminology may be different, they may use different words than we did to call something, but the concepts are similar.
It’s not anything new to me. It’s just about channeling and reconstructing my thought process to the verbiage they use. It’s all about repetition. It’s been a fun process for me. It’s definitely prepared and helped me learn new offenses in a short amount of time as I continue meeting with coaches from the next level.
JM: It sounds like this has been a fun process for you as you continue to prove your worth in the meeting room. I’ve really appreciated your time today. In closing, why should a team use one of their draft picks on Skylar Thompson?
ST: I’m going to be a guy that’s going to come in and make an impact on the organization. I believe I’m a winner at heart. That’s the type of mentality I’m going to bring to the organization.
From the very first day I step into the building, I’m going to expect for us to win and I’m going to do whatever it takes to make that a reality. I’m going to put the team in positions to be successful. Whatever that move may look like, whatever my role may be, I’m going to execute within that role to the best of my ability. I’m going to do whatever it takes to help the team win.
That’s always been my mentality. I’ve always had that chip on my shoulder. I’ve carried that with me my entire life. I’m a winner. Whatever that looks like, whatever it takes, I’m going to win. That’s what an organization can expect of me, and that’s why somebody should give me an opportunity to come in and play for them.
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