Shaq Thompson can do it all. While scouts aren’t sure exactly where his NFL future lies, the University of Washington product knows exactly.
“I tell everybody outside linebacker [in a 4-3] or inside as a Will [in a 3-4],” Thompson said. “... That’s where I feel the most comfortable. 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.”
The 6-foot, 228-pounder made 81 tackles, a sack and an interception he returned for a touchdown as a linebacker and a safety. He also had three forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries he returned for touchdowns. On offense, he gained 512 total yards as a running back, averaging 7.5 yards per carry, while scoring two touchdowns on 65 touches.
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Thompson won the 2014 Paul Hornung Award as college football’s most versatile player.
“He’s obviously extremely talented,” Seattle Seahawks general manager John Schneider said. “He played several positions.”
Scouts continue to debate Thompson’s best position in the NFL. But his versatility intrigues just about everyone, including the Dallas Cowboys, who hosted Thompson for a Valley Ranch visit.
“He’s a good football player,” New York Giants general manager Jerry Reese said. “He’s versatile. He’s played a lot of different positions. He’s played linebacker, obviously some safety. He’s played some running back. He’s a Swiss Army Knife kind of guy.”
While Thompson sees his NFL future at linebacker, he might not be big enough. He had trouble shedding blocks at times in college.
“I feel like size doesn’t matter,” Thompson said. “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 going to 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.”
So maybe he’s a safety in base defense and a linebacker in the sub packages? The only thing certain is Thompson isn’t a baseball player. Sports Illustrated’s The MMQB recently dubbed him “The Linebacker Who Couldn’t Hit.”
Thompson played only one season of high school baseball, getting 18 hits while striking out 17 times, but the Boston Red Sox still drafted him in the 18th round in 2012. Thompson played 13 games in the minors, going 0 for 39 with 37 strikeouts and eight walks.
Thompson’s baseball “career” became a punch line.
“There were a couple of media people that made a joke out of it,” Thompson said. “But it was motivation to me. I used it as motivation going into my freshman year [at Washington]. I met some great people there. I met this thing called failure, and I learned how to beat it.”
Charean Williams, 817-390-7760