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The Ravens selected Thompson in the fourth round (130th-overall pick) of the draft, adding to him to a secondary that was looking for depth at safety.
“We are extremely excited,” Defensive Coordinator Dean Pees said Saturday. “We had him very high on our board on defense and are really kind of shocked that he was still there in the fourth round. To get a guy that we had ranked as high as we had him ranked, I wanted to hug Ozzie. That was a great pick.”
Thompson (6-foot-0, 211 pounds), an Auburn transfer, will likely serve as a backup behind Reed and strong safety Bernard Pollard. He played both free and strong safety in college and was an All-Mid Eastern Athletic Conference selection last season, finishing the year with 66 tackles, two interceptions, a fumble recovery and two pass deflections.
The Ravens needed help at the safety spot after losing veterans Tom Zbikowski and Haruki Nakamura to free agency this offseason. Bringing in Thompson fills an immediate need on the defense and he will also likely be expected to play on special teams.
“We always talk about taking the best available, but he wasn’t only the best available, but you get a two-run homer when you also get a need filled,” Pees said.
Thompson has solid speed and a reputation as a big hitter. He ran the 40-yard dash in 4.50 seconds at the NFL scouting combine, where he was one of just two players invited from the HBCU (historically black colleges and universities).
“He’s big, physical,” Head Coach John Harbaugh said. “He’s a hard hitter. He really gets after people.”
He reportedly visited with several teams and some draft projections had him rated as high as a second-round prospect.
Thompson will compete with Emmanuel Cook and Sean Considine for the backup safety spots.
Thompson initially went to Auburn to play linebacker, but he then moved to safety and transferred to South Carolina State.
“He ended up at South Carolina State for various reasons, but I think he’s learned from whatever mistakes he’s made, he’s a humble guy,” Harbaugh said. “He’s got a little bit of something to prove in his mind.”