Once considered an elite high school prospect, Mississippi State linebacker Erroll Thompson heads to the 2021 NFL Draft after establishing himself as a defensive leader for the Bulldogs. Can he make the transition from Saturdays in Starkville to the big stage on Sundays?
Erroll Thompson NFL Draft Player Profile
- Position: Linebacker
- School: Mississippi State
- Current Year: Redshirt Senior
- Height: 6’0 1/2″
- Weight: 255 pounds
Tony Pauline’s Erroll Thompson Scouting Report
Positives: Tough, instinctive run-defending linebacker who is best up the field or in the box. Physical, flies around the football, and works making plays. Quick to read and diagnose, forceful up the field, and sells out on the blitz. Remains disciplined and keeps the action in front of him. Effectively makes the defensive calls.
Negatives: Shows a lot of stiffness in his game. Plays to one speed, displays a limited burst, and is marginally effective in pursuit.
Analysis: Thompson has the size, build, and style to be a run-stuffing inside linebacker at the next level. His game is a bit one-dimensional, so Thompson must stand out on special teams to make a roster.
Erroll Thompson Player Profile
Before establishing himself as one of the elite inside linebackers in the 2016 recruiting cycle, Thompson had been a standout running back at Florence High School. A torn ACL tore down his dreams of being a running back, but a change of position led to him becoming a nightmare for opposing offenses.
As a junior, Thompson emerged as one of the top players in the state of Alabama. Although relatively inexperienced at linebacker, he amassed an impressive 112 tackles while converting 6 of them into sacks.
His performances earned him a three-star rating and saw him ranked as the 13th inside linebacker by 247 Sports. In fact, numerous recruiting sites had him ranked higher than that. Despite attracting attention from across the nation, the Alabama native was expected to commit to the hometown Crimson Tide.
Thompson had other ideas, however. Before his senior season, he announced his commitment to Mississippi State. With his recruiting closed down, he was able to focus on his senior season. He proceeded to produce a showcase that would leave Bulldogs fans salivating with anticipation. A total of 101 tackles, 18 tackles for loss, and 2 sacks demonstrated his immense ability to impact the game from the linebacker spot.
Thompson’s college football career at Mississippi State
Despite his impressive final season at Florence, the Mississippi State linebacker redshirted his first season in Starkville. Even in his redshirt freshman season, Thompson only started three games for the Bulldogs. He maximized his limited opportunity though, leading all SEC freshmen in tackles (46) while contributing 5.5 tackles for loss. Furthermore, Thompson added his first career sack against his former suitor, Alabama.
2017 was just a taster of the disruption that Thompson would cause for the Bulldogs’ opposition. Over the next three years, he would start every game at middle linebacker, imposing himself as a tackling machine.
In over 700 defensive snaps in 2018, he was credited with missing just 7 tackles. A one-handed interception — also in 2018 — against Kansas State proved he could be disruptive in multiple ways. Additionally, a second career interception that season came at a crucial time and led to a victory over Texas A&M.
Thompson became a team leader — in more ways than one — as a junior in 2019. Leading the team with 84 tackles, he was also a team captain for the season. He reprised the role of a captain for his senior season and set a career-high for tackles in a season (96). Over the course of his four-year playing career, the Mississippi State linebacker amassed over 300 tackles. He was the first Bulldog since 2020 to surpass the magical mark.
Following the 2020 college football season, Thompson declared for the 2021 NFL Draft.
Erroll Thompson’s best fits in the 2021 NFL Draft
During his time as a linebacker for Mississippi State, Thompson has demonstrated that he has the physicality and work rate to succeed in the NFL. He flies to the football, and as mentioned before, he doesn’t often miss a tackle.
One area that presents concern for scouts ahead of the 2021 NFL Draft process is his play speed. At his pro day, however, Thompson shed some weight in order to increase his speed and was happy with his performance. If he has succeeded without compromising his play strength, then that should increase his stock.
His best fit in the NFL would be as an inside linebacker in a 3-4 defense. Some teams with needs at the position include the Denver Broncos, Los Angeles Rams, and Green Bay Packers.
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