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Shaq Thompson | Linebacker

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

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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. Mar 29 - 10:26 PM
Source: NFL.com

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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

NFL Media analyst Mike Mayock said Washington OLB Shaq Thompson's forty time was "a little slower than I expected."

Thompson (6-foot 1/8, 228 pounds) clocked a 4.64. He added a 33.5-inch vertical jump and a broad jump of 9-8. All those numbers are below what was expected of Thompson, an exceptional athlete. Mayock called him "a first-round talent" and said he can see Thompson as a safety who shifts to linebacker on third downs.
Source: NFL.com
Feb 23 - 11:45 PM

NFL Media senior analyst Gil Brandt reports he spoke with two NFL teams that believe Washington OLB Shaq Thompson's "position in NFL has to be SS."

"Had excellent workouts, really smart," Brandt added. Interestingly, NFL Media analyst Mike Mayock also sees Thompson as a safety (Thompson is Mayock's second-best rated player at the position). Thompson prefers to play linebacker, but safety -- and also running back -- are possible destinations in the NFL. "I'm gonna put it out there that I want to play linebacker. But I can't say no to (safety)," Thompson said Friday. "I like to be up by the line of scrimmage. I feel like I'm physical enough. I'm not the biggest guy, but I have a lot of heart."
Source: NFL.com
Feb 23 - 2:38 PM

Updating a previous item, Washington's Shaq Thompson will only work out at LB at the NFL Combine.

In fact Thompson said running back is out of the question in terms of NFL reps. NFL.com previously reported Thompson and Blake Sims would go through RB drills, but neither did. Teams likely requested the multiple position workouts, however, players can turn down the requests. Some will question Thompson at linebacker in terms of size. We do not.
Feb 21 - 3:34 PM

Washington LB Shaq Thompson could turn "into a Lavonte David-type of defender," believes NFL Media senior analyst Gil Brandt.

"Everyone wants to find out if Thompson, who will work out as a linebacker and a defensive back, has a position," Brandt wrote. "Does he have the coverage skills to play safety? Does he have the kind of body that will allow him to put on the additional weight needed to play linebacker?" Thompson finished his collegiate career with 233 tackles, five interceptions, 3.5 sacks and 456 rushing yards on 7.5 yards per carry. He scored six times this past season; twice on offense and four times on defense.
Source: NFL.com
Feb 20 - 6:39 PM

Washington LB Shaq Thompson will also work out at RB.

Thompson, per Daniel Jeremiah, previously stated he would not go through RB drills. Something changed, and it might have involved Thompson's representation. We think the Washington product is a far superior player on defense than he is on offense.
Source: NFL.com
Feb 20 - 10:18 AM

NFL Media analyst Mike Mayock said that Washington LB Shaq Thompson "is one of the most fun guys to watch on tape this year."

"I know GMs were looking at him as a running back, linebacker and safety, most teams as a linebacker," Mayock said. "I've got him as a safety. I think he can be a Kam Chancellor-type on first down in your base and then drop down and play linebacker in your dime, and that's really important in today's world." Thompson said recently that he will decline to participate in RB drills even if a team requests it. He feels most comfortable at strong side linebacker.
Source: NFL.com
Feb 17 - 8:52 PM

Washington LB Shaq Thompson would decline going through RB drills if a team requested it, according to NFL Media's Daniel Jeremiah.

We aren't sure if this is just in relation to the NFL Combine or future private workouts. Some might request defensive back drills, too. Thompson has stated he feel most comfortable at strong side linebacker.
Feb 15 - 2:23 PM

An AFC North scout isn't sure Washington LB Shaq Thompson can keep his weight up enough to stick at LB in the pros.

"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," the scout said. NFL Media's Mike Mayock ranks Thompson as the No. 2 S, though Thompson is most comfortable at strong side LB. "He'll need to add mass to his frame -- he is listed at 228 pounds, but played under that weight at times -- and despite his high motor, he lacks the play strength to back up his intentions near the line of scrimmage," wrote NFL.com's Lance Zierlein. "Still, he's a long, twitchy linebacker with good athleticism and big-play potential and could become a unique chess piece in the hands of the right defensive coordinator."
Source: NFL.com
Feb 13 - 2:08 AM