Tariq Thompson proved throughout his time at San Diego State that he’s a bonafide playmaker. Now, he’s out to prove that he can be a game-changer in the NFL.
During his time with the Aztecs, Thompson had 210 tackles, 23 passes defended, 11 interceptions, five forced fumbles and five fumble recoveries. He literally stuffed the stat sheet at the collegiate level.
In terms of versatility, there aren’t many safeties in this year’s draft who can line up all over the field like Thompson can. If you want him in the slot, he can do that. If you want him to play that traditional deep safety role, he’s got you covered.
We sat down with Tariq Thompson to discuss his preparation for the NFL Draft, favorite moments at San Diego State, and what role he envisions himself playing in the NFL.
The Spun: How has this draft process been for you?
Tariq Thompson: It’s been treating me pretty well. I’ve learned a lot and have met a lot of people, which is definitely something cool about this sport.
The Spun: How would you grade your pro day performance?
TT: I’d give my performance a C, just average. I feel like I have a lot left to show, but that’s in the past now. I feel like it was a good showing position-wise because I showed I can move and that I’m fluid as a defensive back. That’s what I was there to show, and I feel like I did a good job with that.
— San Diego State Football (@AztecFB) October 1, 2017
The Spun: The numbers speak for themselves, but what do you think you showed on film?
TT: Definitely my intelligence and my ability to read routes. I also showed I can accelerate to the ball and make plays on the ball. I consider myself a ballhawk. My biggest speciality is my ability to be versatile. I can play in any system and make plays in the slot, deep safety or box. Wherever they need me to play, I’m willing to play. Not too many people have that ability. I like using my versatility to help the team out, and whoever gets me is going to get that.
The Spun: You have the skillset to play in basically any scheme. What’s your preference though?
TT: I don’t really have a favorite, I like doing whatever. I’m always in a position to make plays and I like winning, so it doesn’t really matter to me where I’m at as long as the team is winning.
— San Diego State Football (@AztecFB) October 1, 2017
The Spun: Do you have a favorite San Diego State moment?
TT: My junior year after we won the New Mexico Bowl against Central Michigan. It was my first and last bowl game that I won. It was definitely fun to play with my guys. It was a great year and a perfect way to end that season. I felt like the torch was passed over to me and some of the older players on that team. That ultimately led to a pretty good senior year.
The Spun: Which safeties do you watch on film?
TT: I like watching a lot of players – Kevin Byard, Derwin James, Antoine Winfield Jr., Tyrann Mathieu. Shoot, there’s a lot of players – Kenny Moore is another one. He’s more of a nickel cornerback, but I like his game a lot. I also watch Malik Hooker, Darnell Savage and Jamal Adams. I like watching a lot of safeties and see what different things they bring to the table.
The Spun: You recently tweeted you have a lot to prove. What was the motivation behind that post?
TT: I feel like I just got to prove myself. I feel like I have a lot left to show teams and that I’m more than capable of playing this game at a high level, and I’m excited to do it. I had to tweet that out because it was stuck in my head. It’s actually a song lyric from a J Cole song, but it’s something I’ve been thinking about it for a while. Now that I’m here, it shows that all my hard work has paid off.
I got a whole lot to prove
— Tariq (@tariq__thompson) March 2, 2021
The Spun: What’s the next step you want to take in your game?
TT: Being more physical in the run game. I feel like I didn’t have as many tackles for loss and forced fumbles as I should have. I’m a very physical player and I didn’t show that enough in college. But I’m ready to show that at the next level.
The Spun: Have you thought about what it’d be like to intercept a pass from Tom Brady or Patrick Mahomes?
TT: It’d be a surreal feeling. Watching them play is truly special. Tom Brady is arguably the best player of all time. Being able to pick them off is something that I look forward to doing. If it happens, I’ll be very happy. But it’s also just one pick. I got to make sure I can do everything to help my team win.
The Spun: Do you have any goals for your rookie season?
TT: I’m not looking too far ahead. I definitely want to make the 53-man roster and get a chance to make an impact on special teams. I’m very knowledgeable and put myself in the right position to make plays.
The Spun: What is an NFL team getting in Tariq Thompson?
TT: You’re getting a parson who’s laid-back, but very focused and hard-working. I love this sport. I’m going to give it my all and never take a play off. I’m someone who has been through a lot of ups and downs. I have a high IQ and the athletic ability to make plays and read things quickly. I have a charismatic way of playing the game. I hope that excites people, and I can’t wait to see fans in the stands again.
Excited to see how #SDSU S/NB Tariq Thompson tests today. Extremely productive, started all four years with the Aztecs. Intriguing Day 3 player who could see immediate playing time at the next level. pic.twitter.com/H2WPcGOij7
— Devin Jackson (@RealD_Jackson) March 25, 2021
Thompson is projected to be either a late Day 2 pick or an early Day 3 pick. Regardless, he should hear his name called when the NFL Draft starts up later this month.
You can read more of our interviews with athletes or media stars here.