For just about all of 2017, three-star athlete Nadir Thompson was a high priority for Virginia Tech at defensive back despite how he was committed to NC State. Then, Thompson decommitted from the Wolfpack and committed to the Hokies weeks later, giving VT their fourth of their five North Carolina commits so far.
Thompson is listed as an athlete, but is expected to be a defensive back with VT having him around the top of their board at DB. However, VT will have the option to move Thompson to WR or even RB if DB doesn’t work for him while he also has the skills to be a very good punt returner.
Thompson has the size to play cornerback at around 5’11” though he will definitely need to keep adding more weight to his frame at around 165-170 pounds currently. However, his great athleticism definitely makes him a guy with a very good ceiling that has even helped him to receive a four-star grade from ESPN.
When watching Thompson on tape, the first thing that stands out is his speed. Thompson has the potential to be one of the fastest cornerbacks in America, and definitely has the speed to recover many times when a receiver gets by him or close down quickly on a quick pass to break it up or limit the play to a short play.
Thompson’s speed and closing ability is on display multiple times on defense where he stops some big runs from being touchdowns while also making some intelligent plays combined with his speed to stop a running back in the backfield.
Thompson has good awareness in zone coverage doing well at positioning himself well to make a play when multiple receivers are in his area. Thompson also has some decent ball skills that definitely show how he has a lot of potential at cornerback.
There isn’t a lot of tape of Thompson at cornerback and his man coverage skills definitely appear to be raw though the athleticism is there for him to develop into a quality man-cover cornerback. Thompson also looks like he may be able to play rover if things don’t work for him at cornerback.
Thompson could also be a slot receiver for the Hokies due to his great speed that can make him dangerous on quick passes or someone who can burn a safety over the top for a big play. Thompson also has some agility and good hands that would make him a good fit in the slot, something that may be considered more if VT continues to add more DBs especially with the Hokies having a great chance at four-star CB Kalon Gervin and being among a trio standing out for three-star CB Jermaine Waller.
While Thompson has upside on offense,or defense, he also may have a way onto the field as a true freshman as Thompson is a talented punt returner that combines his great speed with good vision and smarts to use his blocks effectively, and take advantage of holes to get some big returns or touchdowns. Thompson isn’t afraid to take some risks and while he is able to make those risks pay off, he may need to take some more fair catches on punt returns at the collegiate level.
With Greg Stroman also being gone after 2017, Thompson could be able to follow Stroman’s footsteps being a backup cornerback as a freshman along with being VT’s punt returner. In some ways, Thompson is quite similar as a recruit to Stroman as both are great athletes who were fairly raw as defensive backs and as we’ve seen, Stroman has developed quite well for the Hokies. When watching the tape of both players, Thompson has a little more speed than Stroman that helps his ceiling though Stroman has an inch or 2 on Thompson.
Nadir Thompson is a very talented athlete that has the versatility to play either slot receiver or cornerback. While Thompson may not touch the field much on offense or defense as a true freshman, he has the talent to replace Stroman as the Hokies’ punt returner in 2018.