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Shaq Thompson | Linebacker

Team: Washington Huskies
Ht / Wt:  6'2' / 225

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Rotoworld's Evan Silva disagreed with Carolina's strategy of aggressively trading up twice in the draft and gave their class a "C+" grade.
Panthers GM Dave Gettleman shipped St. Louis the Nos. 57, 89, and 201 picks for 41 (used on Michigan WR Devin Funchess) and then sent Oakland Nos. 124, 161, and 242 for the 102nd pick (to select Oklahoma OT Daryl Williams). Both filled needs, but Silva would have preferred them to stay put and use some of those extra picks to shore up weaknesses at edge rusher, cornerback, and offensive line. ESPN's Mel Kiper graded the class as a "C" and wrote that No. 25 pick Washington LB Shaq Thompson "sure looked like a reach to me" and could have been available in Round 2. May 4 - 11:07 PM
Source: Rotoworld

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Date:

Panthers selected Washington LB Shaq Thompson with the No. 25 overall pick in the 2015 NFL draft.

Thompson (6'0/228) earned the 2014 Paul Hornung Award as the nation's most versatile player, finishing his three-year career with 15 tackles for loss, three forced fumbles, and five interceptions. Thompson scored six TDs in 2014, including three on fumble returns and two at running back. He ran 4.64 with a 33 1/2-inch vertical and 9-foot-9 broad jump at the Combine. Not athletic enough for safety and small for linebacker, Thompson is a tweener prospect who may open his career as a dime defender in Carolina's sub-packages. GM Dave Gettleman likely views Thompson as SLB Thomas Davis' long-term heir apparent.
Apr 30 - 10:50 PM

Washington LB Shaq Thompson "has yet to show he can make the necessary reads for the position," wrote Mike Renner of Pro Football Focus, who added that "all the athleticism in the world won't make up for poor instincts as a linebacker."

This is what Renner is talking about: Thompson's 7.3 run-stop percentage ranked No. 41 amongst 58 draft-eligible starting inside linebackers and "he was an overall ineffective player against the run, outside of forcing and recovering fumbles." The analyst envisions Thompson being moved back a level in the pros. "Thompson's skill set translates better to safety, as he was smooth in coverage and has nickelback experience, but it's hard to feel comfortable picking a player early for a position you've never seen him play," Renner wrote.
Source: ESPN.com
Apr 26 - 9:57 PM

On ProFootballTalk's PFT Live, Washington LB Shaq Thompson stated that he's "drawn the most interest from the Panthers."

The Panthers could look to Thompson as a long term option to replace LB Thomas Davis, who was also a converted safety they drafted back in 2005. With Thompson's versatility, he could make an immediate impact in the secondary or could be used as a linebacker. The Panthers would have solid group, with Luke Kuechly, Thomas Davis and Shaq Thompson patrolling the middle of the field.
Apr 22 - 3:34 PM

Washington LB Shaq Thompson is scheduled to visit the Cowboys, Vikings and Colts.

We previously blurbed a combination of visits and workouts and wanted to clarify which ones were in-house trips, since those matter more for some teams. "In the workouts, teams really just want to see how well I can move. I'm still young, so I have room to grow and get a little bit bigger. I'm 228 pounds and have been as heavy as 230," Thompson wrote. Evaluators both inside and outside the NFL have listed Thompson as a linebacker, safety and running back.
Source: USA Today
Apr 6 - 9:09 AM

Washington OLB Shaq Thompson has visited, worked out for, or is scheduled to work out for the Atlanta Falcons, Cleveland Browns, Dallas Cowboys, Houston Texans, Indianapolis Colts, Minnesota Vikings and Philadelphia Eagles.

"Thompson, the reigning Paul Hornung Award winner as the most versatile player in the country, showed off his all-around game [at UW's pro day], showing impressive agility and speed in linebacker and defensive back drills," wrote CBS Sports' Rob Rang. "There is still plenty of debate as to where the six foot, 228 pounder fits in best in the NFL but it won't be at running back. He was asked to work out at that position Thursday but declined. Thompson spent last night dining with San Diego Chargers linebackers coach Mike Nolan and is going out tonight with members of the Carolina Panthers." Not surprisingly, the prospect stood on his combine numbers. Thompson's 4.64 forty and 33 bench reps at the combine were good for a linebacker.
Source: CBS Sports
Apr 5 - 11:25 PM

TFY Draft Insider Tony Pauline notes that Washington OLB Shaq Thompson had dinner with Mike Nolan of the San Diego Chargers Wednesday and was scheduled to eat with the Carolina Panthers after his pro day Thursday night.

The Washington prospect weighed in at 228 pounds at his pro day and threw up 28 reps on the bench. Pauline notes that the 6-foot-1, 228-pound Thompson worked out as a linebacker and defensive back during drills and "looked very athletic in both." Thompson has scheduled nine pre-draft visits with teams.
Apr 3 - 4:34 PM

ESPN's Mel Kiper thinks Washington OLB Shaq Thompson "could use more mass, but the guy who compares himself to Lavonte David really could become that type of player."

Kiper refers to Thompson as "sneaky safe," an apt term for a player nobody can seem to figure out what to do with, but who most concede will probably excel wherever placed. "The guy who played everywhere last year (including running back) can be maligned because we don't know at which position where he'll end up," Kiper wrote. "But that fails to mention that even a conservative estimate of his potential would make him a very good weakside defender who can chase down any play and knows how to cover in space."
Mar 31 - 12:14 AM

Washington OLB Shaq Thompson is a "long, twitchy athlete with outstanding range to become a highly restrictive defender," observed NFL Media draft analyst Lance Zierlein.

The analyst grades Thompson No. 5 amongst linebackers (not including edge rushers who will play LB in the pros), a rather disappointing outlook. "Able to make plays well outside of his area against both the run and pass. With his big-play potential, Thompson could become a unique chess piece in the hands of the right defensive coordinator, but there are a growing number of teams that are beginning to struggle with whether to project Thompson as a safety or 4-3 outside linebacker," Zierlein wrote. Zierlein likens Thompson to Brandon Marshall of the Broncos. Thompson is scheduled for an upcoming visit with the LB-needy Vikings. He'd make a good running mate for Anthony Barr, wouldn't he? "He was 219 pounds when I visited late in the season. I'm concerned about whether he will be able to keep enough weight on to be a 4-3 WILL. Until I see him actually play deep as a safety, I'm not sure that is a projection I'm comfortable making," said an AFC North scout.
Source: NFL.com
Mar 29 - 10:26 PM

Washington LB Shaq Thompson is scheduled to visit the Vikings, according to Darren Wolfson.

This connection makes a lot of sense. In fact, we might narrow the Vikings' first-round selection down to linebacker or cornerback. Thompson surprisingly tested like an average athlete for the position at the Combine, but he is very fluid on the field and will stay in games for all three downs. Mike Zimmer found his strong side backer who can blitz in Anthony Barr last year. Thompson could fill the weakside spot and be a missile from the back side.
Mar 27 - 9:39 AM

Washington OLB Shaq Thompson's "elite athleticism and football instincts make his height -- or lack of -- a non-issue," opined NFLDraftScout.com's Frank Cooney.

"Even if he cannot out-muscle blockers, he finds ways to make plays and his rare skill set can help neutralize those bothersome strategic mismatches," Cooney wrote. At the combine, Thompson (6-foot 1/8, 228 pounds) clocked a 4.64 forty and added a 33.5-inch vertical jump and a broad jump of 9-8. "Size-wise, Thompson looks like a safety, but at outside linebacker he outperformed AT&T with his amazing range and the ability to dial up a big play at any time while using rollover minutes to show off skills as a running back," Cooney wrote. When asked about his size at the combine, this is how Thompson responded: "I feel like size doesn't matter. There were a couple of times where I didn't get off blocks. But there were other times when I did. If you're a playmaker, you're gonna make a play regardless, whether you're getting blocked or not getting blocked. That's part of my game I need to tighten up and I'm getting better at it."
Source: CBS Sports
Mar 22 - 5:55 PM

Former Washington and current USC head coach Steve Sarkisian said he would draft Shaq Thompson as an OLB.

Sarkisian recruited Thompson to the Huskies. "I think I would draft him at 'backer," Sarkisian said. "It's still new to him. He didn't do it in high school. We really started showing it to him his freshman year, he did it his sophomore year, and then he played both ways last year for Coach (Chris Petersen). What he has is playmaking ability. He has a nose for the ball and creates big plays. I think his best days are really ahead of him at the linebacker position." Thompson himself prefers to stay at linebacker. Others see him as a safety. Another prominent voice would prefer him on offense. "What do I think is his best position? Running back," Washington coach Chris Petersen said. "I know he doesn't want to do that. He probably wants to play longer. He knows the shelf life of running backs. He's just so unique because he's just a football player."
Source: NFL.com
Mar 9 - 10:58 PM

Washington HC Chris Petersen believes Shaq Thompson's best position is RB.

"I know he doesn’t want to do that. He probably wants to play longer," Petersen said. If running back is out of the question? "I think he’s a safety that drops down like a linebacker... He can tackle like a linebacker. He’s pretty explosive." We are shocked to read that Petersen thinks Shaq is best as a ball carrier, but there have been reports of teams believing the same. We see him as a second level defender as both a linebacker and hybrid safety.
Mar 8 - 2:42 PM

Washington OLB Shaq Thompson's evaluation is still shrouded in questions, wrote ESPN's Todd McShay.

"There are many different opinions," McShay wrote. "We have him as a linebacker, which is where he says he wants to play, and many teams agree. Others project him as an NFL safety while others think his best position might be running back, where he played some for the Huskies. His 4.64 40 time and 33 bench reps were good for a linebacker, but his jumps weren't great. For teams looking at him as a running back, that 40 time is a bit of a red flag." Thompson (6-foot 1/8, 228 pounds) wants to stay at linebacker, and that could be his best fit. NFL Media analyst Mike Mayock called him "a first-round talent" and said he can see Thompson as a safety who shifts to linebacker on third downs.
Mar 3 - 9:11 PM

An NFL scout told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that Washington OLB Shaq Thompson "can play on and off the ball."

"Really good athlete," he said. "Not great instincts. He's the best athlete on that team. He could be the best running back. He's a rusher." Thompson scored six times last season, three on fumble returns and two as a running back, winning the Paul Hornung Award as the nation's most versatile player. NFL Media analyst Mike Mayock said Thompson is "a first-round talent" and said he can see Thompson as a safety who shifts to linebacker on third downs.
Mar 2 - 5:29 PM