EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ -- One of the most interesting position battles at Giants training camp is starting to look like it's over before it ever really began.
Rookie Darian Thompson has emerged as the clear leader in the battle for the starting free safety job this summer - so much so that even coach Ben McAdoo acknowledged on Monday that the 22-year-old is now the favorite to win the job. Thompson has been getting virtually all of the first-team reps next to Landon Collins in recent practices, along with plenty of second-team reps, too.
And he hasn't disappointed, either. The Giants have always loved the potential of their third-round pick out of Boise State, and McAdoo has loved what he's seen from him on and off the field.
"He's a young pro," McAdoo said. "He's a guy that goes about his business the right way. He's done it since he's walked into the building. He's mature. He studies his game. He communicates the game. And we expect him to get better with reps."
If that happens it will be quite a reversal of fortune for the Giants, who have not exactly had good luck drafting safeties in recent years - at least until they traded up in the second round to land Collins last year. Thompson, in fact, has quickly pulled ahead of several of their recent draft picks, including Cooper Taylor (fifth round, 2013), Nat Berhe (fifth, 2014), and Mykkele Thompson (fifth, 2015).
What the Giants hope, and expect, is that the 6-1, 213-pound Thompson - who tied a Mountain West Conference record with 19 career interceptions - will be the ball hawk in the secondary that they've been missing. His presence should also free up the more physical Collins (6-foot, 225) to play a more traditional strong safety role.