Shaq Thompson   LB/RB   Washington

TALENT BOARD ROUND 3

STRENGTHS
Shaq is an athletic football player. He has played multiple positions on both sides of the ball. He has played safety and linebacker on defense and on offense, has played running back. Shaq has good strength and speed to play any one of these positions. He has solid workout strength in his upper and lower body. He has quick feet and looks on film like he could be used on defense in coverage situations. Shaq can be a physical player and can shed blockers and make tackles in the hole as a linebacker. But for me, I look at Shaq with his natural ability to play running back that just seems to fit. That being said, Shaq played this year like a player who did not want to get hurt, which is disturbing to me.

CONCERNS
This year I have not seen any explosiveness, consistency or the instincts to make plays and be a difference maker on the defensive side of the ball at any posiiton. As a running back, in spite of his natural ability, he seems to bounce the ball outside a lot and shy away from being tackled. On defense, he is not a good tackler at all. He will take on blocks, but then get off blocks and not make the tackle. He is slow to react to any play waiting to see what is happening rather than anticipating and reacting quickly. In short, the only time I have been impressed with Shaq is when he played running back and even then, he is lost blocking and picking up blitzes and is not consistent catching the ball.

BOTTOM LINE
I donít think anybody can look at this kid and not see his athletic ability, but the members know what my next sentence will be. Thatís right, letís say it all together: It takes more than athletic talent to play in the NFL. Linebacker is the hardest position for me to profile. Thatís because it is so scheme oriented. We all have seen linebackers with one team be a star player and then go to another team and be cut. Iím not suggesting that Shaq is not going to make it in the NFL. What I AM saying is that with what I see on film and because he has played so many different positions, his LTI might be a little long before he gains the football intelligence and techniques to play any position on either side of the ball. For me personally, I think itís best to look at him as a running back. It seems to be his natural position and I think a position that he can impact in more quickly than playing on the defensive side of the ball. But thatís just me. Sometimes players are what I call ďhide and seekĒ players. By that I mean, sometimes a playerís true talent is hiding at the college level and you just need a good coach at the next level to seek it and bring it out. I think it might take Shaq a full contract (if he plays on the defensive side of the ball) before he can overcome his lack of instincts and improves his tackling. As a running back, he might have an easier transition to the NFL if he doesnít fumble the ball after the contact he has been shying away from at the college level. Nevertheless ,the kid can work out and will whet the appetite of those coaches who will insist that they can coach him up. For me, I would wait and let someone else do all the work.

Drew Boylhart
FEB/2015