General Manager Steve Keim vowed to fix the Cardinals’ defense this offseason, and went to work by adding pieces through free agency and the draft.
One spot he left alone was safety, which speaks to the development of Jalen Thompson.
The 21-year-old went from a fifth-round supplemental pick to full-time starter as a rookie in 2019, showing real promise by the end of the season. The Cardinals' brass likes Thompson, and Pro Football Focus is also optimistic about his future, naming Thompson the team’s most underrated player.
"What he did as a rookie (particularly late in the year), combined with what we saw from Thompson at the college level, offers plenty of reason for excitement about his prospects moving forward," Ben Linsey wrote.
Thompson finished 2019 with 57 tackles, an interception, a fumble recovery and three passes defensed.
Pro Football Focus gave him a coverage grade of 70.3, which was third among rookie safeties last season behind second-round pick Juan Thornhill and first-rounder Darnell Savage.
Budda Baker is already a star, and if Thompson can continue to grow, the Cardinals could have a talented safety pairing for the foreseeable future.
"He's not even 22 years old yet," Linsey wrote. "His continued development will be key on a defense that hopes to be much better in coverage in 2020."