While not projected to be a high draft pick, Shaq Thompson out of Washington is one of the more versatile and intriguing prospects heading into the NFL, most likely ending up playing for the Carolina Panthers or the New York Giants.
Thompson won the Paul Hornung Award last season, which goes to the most versatile player in college football. He has played linebacker, safety and running back (the latter only last season), rushing for 456 yards on 61 carries, scoring a couple of touchdowns. Despite his 7.5 yards per carry, he has decided that it’s better for him to focus on just defense when taking his game to the professional level.
He might be a good running back, but defensive players, especially those who can play in more than one position, hold a higher value, have a longer lasting role in the NFL and the bottom line, are more likely to make more money. Thompson has 3.5 sacks and 5 interceptions in his college career (three years), also scoring five defensive touchdowns off of fumbles and interceptions.
So far, the Panthers have been the only team to call him up for a visit and give him an on-campus workout. The Panthers took a safety, Thomas Davis, in the draft 10 years ago, turning him into a linebacker. They have a history of successfully helping a player going through that change. And if Thompson can give a few reps at running back, why not?
The Giants need help all over the place, but especially at weak side linebacker. Thompson seems to have the first round talent and athleticism, but isn’t experienced enough at the linebacker position, which means he’ll probably still be available in the third round, which where he’s likely going to get picked. The Panthers have the 89th overall pick, the Giants have the 74th.