Shaq Thompson did was expected of him this week, announcing he would skip his senior season for the Washington Huskies and enter the NFL Draft. Thompson’s stock will never be higher than it is right now. Already a projected first-round pick as a linebacker before the season started, Thompson then became the Huskies’ featured running back in three straight games, and was two yards shy of getting at least 100 yards in all three of them.
He also cleaned up on the postseason awards circuit. He was first team All-Pac 12, first team All-AP as an all-purpose player, first-team every other voting organization you could think of, and winner of the Paul Hornung Award for most versatile player in the country.
With 81 tackles and four defensive touchdowns, plus 463 yards on just 61 carries for a team-leading 7.5 average and two rushing scores, the whispering began that Thompson’s best chance in the NFL might be at running back instead of on the defensive side. Size-wise, it looks like a better fit. He’s right around 6-foot-2, 230 pounds, garnering the dreaded defensive “tweener” label.
About the only thing that he can’t do is hit a curveball. After graduating high school in Sacramento, the Boston Red Sox took a chance and drafted him in the 18th round, but after a summer in rookie ball, both sides decided that as a baseball player, he was a good football player.
It’s hard to say exactly where Thompson will go in the draft because it’s only January, but one would think that he will get an invitation to the green room for the big night and not be there past the 15th pick. He’ll probably exceed expectations wherever he goes. Pretty much the only thing he’s done as expected recently was declare for the draft.