Returning to Cal for his senior season is one of the nation’s best cornerbacks. At only 5’ 9”, 193 lbs. Syd’Quan Thompson is nearly the complete package and should be an early round pick next year as the anchor of someone’s secondary one day.
A pre-season injury to Tim Mixon forced Thompson into the starting line-up as a redshirt freshman in 2006. The rookie responded with a Sporting News Pac-10 all-freshman selection and Team Rookie MVP honour in starting all 13 games and has yet to look back.
Owner of 6 INT, 26 PBU and 208 tackles in his career, Thompson has been highly productive en route to earning 1st-Team All-Pac 10 honours in 2008 and being named to the Lott Trophy Watch List for the upcoming season. Thompson has also picked up right where DeSean Jackson left off, racking up 344 punt return yards and a 70-yard TD against Colorado State in 2008.
After starting every game of his college career, Thompson is the leader of the Cal defence and should earn that distinction in the pros as well. While not real big, he’s about average size for a CB but plays bigger and makes up for his size deficiency with tremendous open-field tackling. Thompson, as evidenced by his high number of tackles, is not afraid to stick his nose in a pile or attack ball carriers.
He’s physical and fights for the ball against any receiver. His confidence has been building throughout his career, and rightfully so, and he now has that swagger that all great corners need. His natural instincts make him much faster than he may time, though a late 4.4/40 is not out of the question. Displays fluid hips for turning and running and is a very smooth runner all around.
Thompson has a knack for getting to the football and disrupting receivers, display solid hands for the INT and the awareness to knock it down when he can’t. Even just a finger tip, Thompson gets to a lot of passes. Excellent athleticism and change of direction make him very dangerous with the ball in his hands and he keeps up with nearly all receivers around the field. Last season he showed explosiveness as a returner and could be very good in the pros as well. Manages to make plays in the backfield as well with 13.5 TFL and 2 sacks in his career and could be a real weapon on the corner blitz.
Thompson has just average size and bigger receivers can get the best of him at times despite the fight in him. Naturally, he’s not super strong but does have good core strength and in the lower body. Thompson may not time the greatest and doesn’t have a great burst to recover when beaten. High tackling totals a result of aggressive play but also gives up passes despite high pass defence numbers. Needs some technique refinement in his back pedal.
His tackling prowess and ability to play the ball in the air makes Thompson a prospect with a very high ceiling and could lead to him to play safety if the opportunity or need arose. Unless he has a terrible season or gets injured, there is no doubt that Thompson will be a first round pick come next April. Oddly, Thompson seems to have played in relative obscurity in the Pac-10, leading many to wonder how hyped he would be in the SEC or Big-12. Expect that to change, soon. I’d say by October 3rd. (Hint: USC comes to town.)
Syd’Quan Thompson Update:
Back-to-back blowout losses by Cal have dropped the stock of many Cal players, including Thompson. While not entirely to blame for Cal’s struggles stopping the pass, anytime a team struggles that badly, a defensive back takes a hit. Thompson has actually played pretty well, with 26 tackles and 5 PBU. But he hasn’t recorded an INT yet this year and the spot opposite him has been picked on mercilessly. While Oregon racked up 288 passing yards and 3 TD in the 42-3 thumping, 148 of those yards and all 3 TD came from TE Ed Dickson.
USC WR Damian Williams was too tough to handle during the Trojans 30-3 win, accounting for 101 yards on 8 catches but the Trojans failed to record a passing TD and the rest of the USC receiver corps accounted for only 4 catches and 48 yards. While not having a terrible season by any means, Thompson hasn’t been the dominant force expected and his stock has taken a hit. He’s still an excellent CB prospect.