Jalen Thompson, whose Washington State career ended unceremoniously two weeks ago when the standout safety learned he’d lost his final season of eligibility, was selected by the Arizona Cardinals in the fifth round of Wednesday’s NFL supplemental draft.
The All-Pac-12 safety had been projected to be a mid-round selection in this year’s supplemental draft, which is for players whose eligibility has changed since April’s NFL draft.
Thompson would’ve been a potential All-American had he returned to the Cougars for his senior season, but the Downey, Calif., native committed an NCAA violation that forced him to lose a year of eligibility. The infraction resulted from the purchase of an over-the-counter supplement, a source confirmed to The Spokesman-Review.
The WSU defensive back acted quickly to hire agent Brad Cicala and Monday held a workout for 26 NFL teams, including the Cardinals and a handful of other teams who were reportedly interesting in spending a supplemental draft pick on Thompson.
According to NFL draft analyst Tony Pauline, Thompson interviewed and tested with the Green Bay Packers on Tuesday. The results of those tests were supposed to be shared with the rest of the league’s teams.
As was expected, Thompson was the first player taken in the supplemental draft, and he also wound up being the only one. By bidding on a fifth-round pick for the WSU safety, the Cardinals forfeit a fifth-round selection in the 2020 NFL draft.
Thompson started 39 of a possible 39 games for WSU during his three seasons, all at safety. Arizona brings back both of its starting safeties, former Washington star Budda Baker and D.J. Swearinger Jr., so the Cardinals could either use him as depth or convert him to a cornerback — a position of need.
The Cardinals are under the direction of first-year coach Kliff Kingsbury, who played quarterback for WSU coach Mike Leach in the early 2000s.
The Cougars and Thompson could cross paths this fall, presuming Thompson earns a spot on Arizona’s 53-man roster. WSU visits Arizona State in Tempe on Oct. 12, one day before the Cardinals host Atlanta at the University of Phoenix Stadium.
Timm Rosenbach, who played quarterback for the Cougars in the late 1980s, is the only other player in school history to have been chosen in the supplemental draft, and coincidentally, he was also drafted by the Cardinals before he was traded to the Seahawks. Rosenbach did not declare for the NFL draft before its deadline and joined a pool of five players who were taken in the 1989 supplemental draft. The Cardinals picked him in the first round.
Thompson was a three-time all-conference selection at WSU, who finished his career with 190 tackles, six interceptions, 17 passes defended and five fumble recoveries. He represented the Cougars at Pac-12 media day last July and was expected to take a leadership role for Tracy Claey’s defense with linebacker Peyton Pelluer graduated.
Skyler Thomas could return to safety and play alongside Bryce Beekman after switching to nickel during spring camp, or the Cougars could entrust a player such as Tyrese Ross or Chad Davis Jr. with Thompson’s spot.
The Cougars return just two players in the defensive secondary — Thomas and cornerback Marcus Strong.