This weekend, the Falcons waived safety Afolabi Laguda, a former teammate of corner Isaiah Oliver. The team surprisingly got rid of Laguda after signing him to a two-year deal back in April. That left only J.J. Wilcox, Chris Cooper, and Sharrod Neasman behind Ricardo Allen and Keanu Neal.
Today, the team announced signing Jason Thompson.
TRANSACTION: We have signed S Jason Thompson. https://t.co/TBWgD2sPxP— Atlanta Falcons (@AtlantaFalcons) June 3, 2019
Thompson moved from quarterback to safety in college, with teams apparently interested in coaching up his raw but athletic frame. With a hat tip to Will McFadden of the Atlanta Falcons, Thompson was named of the 2017 draft’s “freakiest athletes” via Pro Football Focus thanks to a 6.57 3-cone, 4.45 40, and 39.5-inch vertical.
He follows a familiar story of players who bounce around the league. In fact, look at former UGA wide receiver Jayson Stanley: he struggled to make an impact on offense, but the Falcons signed the special teams ace with the hopes of moving him to corner. Stanley may have an outside shot of sticking as a special teams ace, but his most likely best-case scenario is sticking with the practice squad and getting a full year of coaching to develop his defensive skills.
Thompson entered Utah as a quarterback then moved to safety and was unable to get meaningful playing time in college. He was a standout defensive back in high school, but obviously that did not translate into a college impact. He entered the NFL with not much but potential, requiring a team to take a chance purely on his skill.
Thompson recently spoke about his NFL career to B-Town Blog, predominately centered around short stints on practice squads and offseason rosters.
He played a key role for Utah on special teams, playing a total of 25 games in two seasons and a few games at safety. He went undrafted in the 2017 NFL Draft, but was picked up by the five-time Super Bowl Champions, the New England Patriots soon after. His time with the Patriots was short — along with the other couple teams — but that is not stopping Thompson from keeping at his hopes of joining a team.
“It has been a long road to get to this point,” he said. “But, I am a firm believer in following your dreams. It is never anything personal when they let you go, it is just business, so you just have to be confident and stay ready because you never know when it is going to be your last shot. For some, it can be mentally draining, but I have a really strong support system that believes in me.”
Thompson, similar to Stanley, may have to make it in the NFL as a special teams ace while developing his defensive skill set. In fact, both players may be vying for the same spot, whether at the bottom of the 53 man roster or the practice squad.