The Jacksonville Jaguars secondary in 2015 were a lot of things: inconsistent, maddening, and mostly bad. But one thing they were not, was playmakers. And this is something that has plagued the Jaguars secondary ever since Gus Bradley stepped in as headcoach.
Interceptions by the Jaguars secondary in 2013? Six.
Interceptions by the Jaguars secondary in 2014? Three.
Interceptions by the Jaguars secondary in 2015? Five. (Four of them by Davon House.)
If there is one kind of defensive back that the Jaguars should be looking to add in the offseason, it is a defensive back that is a proven playmaker. Whether it be cornerback, free safety, strong safety, whatever... throw the scheme out the window and just find talented and productive defenders.
Luckily for the Jaguars, this is a draft that is deep with such defenders. One particular defender that falls under this criterion is Boise State safety Darian Thompson, who will be at the Reese's Senior Bowl this week.
In his last three seasons at Boise State, Thompson was the definition of a playmaker. Turnovers, big hits to set the tone... you name it, he did it all.
Thompson recorded 14 interceptions in the last three seasons (31 games played) and in the last three seasons, how many interceptions do the Jaguars secondary as an entire unit have? 14 interceptions in 48 games. Thompson produced the same amount of interceptions by himself in 17 fewer games than the entire Jaguars secondary as a group has in three years. That is absolutely insane.
For a team that lacks defensive backs who have been able to make plays and force turnovers, Thompson should be very high in the priority list. It is not unreasonable to say that he could step in on Day 1 and contend for the spot of the unit's top playmaker.
Do your job
One clip of Bradley that has become popular and synonymous with his mantra and personality through the years is his "Do your job!" rant as the defensive coordinator of the Seahawks a few years ago.
"Do your job!" is something that Bradley has continued to preach throughout the last few seasons as the Jaguars head coach, but it is something that defenses have struggled to do under his leadership. Whether it is a lack of execution, lack of discipline, or simply a lack of talent, the Jaguars secondary the last three years has done everything but their job.
Thompson played a lot of different roles for Boise State's defense. He rotated between playing as the deep safety and playing a more underneath oriented role often. But regardless of what his role was on any given play, Thompson did his job. He always played disciplined and assignment sound, and he was a defender that his team could rely on -- all traits missing from the Jaguars secondary in 2015.
One thing that stands out about Thompson is how assignment sound he is against both the run and the pass. He is not a freelancer nor is he a player who cracks under pressure and falls out of position or is unprepared.
When scheming up a defense, you need all 11 players to do their job and execute. If one player falls out of line, it could be catastrophic. This is not as much of a worry with Thompson as it is with some defenders the Jaguars have trotted out recently.
Being assignment sound against the run as a defensive back, especially a safety, is something that a lot of football viewers take for granted until it is too late and a safety does not fill the proper alley or takes a bad angle. *looks at the Jaguars 2015 safeties*
As an in the box safety, Thompson does an excellent job at playing his role in the defense against the run. He fills the proper gaps in the defense and is disciplined in setting the edge and not letting any plays get outside of him.
When it comes to coming downhill and filling alleys, Thompson continues to thrive. He reads run plays and screen plays quickly and takes controlled, proper angles downhill.
As a pass defender, Thompson is well equipped to handle underneath duties because of the same things that make him a great run defender. Assignment sound, physical, and intelligent. An issue with the Jaguars secondary in 2015 was the lack of ability to keep short passes short gains. Thompson specializes in this area.
He is a player who can be relied on by his teammates to be in the right position and be able to make something positive for the defense to happen on any given play. No freelancing, no lack of preparation. Just a sound football player who "does his job".
The Jaguars secondary, specifically the safeties, have had issues doing their jobs for the last three years. Everything that Thompson represents and brings to the table is something that the Jaguars starters have been struggling with game after game.
"Insanity: Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results."
This sums up the Jaguars secondary and the handling of it. You can't expect multi-year starters who have struggled at the same things for multiple years to magically transform overnight. If you keep doing the same things and keep throwing out the same ineffective players, you deserve the poor results you get.
Thompson could offer a solution to the insanity of the secondary. He is assignment sound. He is physical. He is a playmaker.
To ignore this type of player would be insanity to the fullest.