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May 01, 2015

What they're saying about Shaq Thompson

Given that Shaq Thompson played three positions at Washington, a lot of experts wondered what his best spot would be in the NFL in the weeks leading to the draft.

And while the Panthers made it clear they plan to use Thompson as a linebacker after taking him 25th overall, the reaction from most analysts still centered on whether Thompson might be a tweener at the next level.

A sampling of some of the comments about Thompson following the first night of the draft:

From Pro Football Focus:

They say linebacker, we see safety. Thompson is not good when blockers get on him, but looks a natural in coverage. How that fits in with Carolina in the short term is most interesting, because there’s no way you’re taking Luke Kuechly or Thomas Davis off the field on those passing downs any time soon. Thompson had the sixth highest grade in coverage of all linebackers against Power-5 opposition but was down in 25th for his work against the run. Numbers that really sum him up. We can’t fault the Panthers for not going offensive line (biggest need) given the run on linemen, but it does seem like something of a luxury pick when you’ve got some real weapons at wide receiver on the board.

From MMQB.si.com:

It was ironic that Thomas Davis announced this pick. Davis is the man Thompson could one day replace. But that won’t be anytime soon, as the 32-year-old Davis is coming off another excellent season. Some have identified Thompson, a fluid pass defender who has the ability to cover tight ends, as a dime linebacker. But as long as Davis is going strong, Carolina will remain a nickel sub-package team on all passing downs. So where, then, will Thompson play? Some have wondered if he can be a safety. If so, we’ll soon see the last of Roman Harper.

From the Boston Globe:

The 6-foot, 228-pound Thompson was the winner of the Paul Hornung Award, given to the nation’s most versatile player. He scored six touchdowns in 2014 — four on defense and two as a running back. He even started at tailback against Colorado last year and ran for 174 yards and a touchdown on 15 carries and caught two passes for 41 yards.

From the Washington Post:

Is he a linebacker or a safety? If he’s a safety, why not take Landon Collins instead? This was a surprising pick and, frankly, not a risk that a mediocre team should be taking at this point in the draft.

How he fits: He will be an interesting fit into the Panthers defense. He’s a versatile athlete that could play safety or outside linebacker in Carolina’s 4-3 defense. Either way, Thompson’s versatility will prove valuable in nickel and dime sub-packages as he can play linebacker and still provide strong coverage.

--Joseph Person

Posted by Observer Sports on May 1, 2015 at 09:43 AM | Permalink


Make your strengths stronger, I suppose. I agree with the PFF eval though. You have a chance to take a real weapon at WR and you reach for a LB hybrid... I trust that they know far more about football than I do, but I was surprised by this pick.

Posted by: JM | May 1, 2015 9:52:34 AM

This was a Surprise pick, albeit a good one for the Panthers. It was a "Luxury Pick" I think. We have more glaring needs. I feel Our problems have been mainly on offense.. The inability to Consistently score points and get first downs when needed. Although we did better in the last six games last year. Shaq should help our anemic scoring defense, and special teams, which I will say was better the last few games. I really thought we'd go for a tackle. Hopefully we pick up some good DB's, RB's, & Tackles tonight and tomorrow. I had LB on my list of needs but not at the top. I agree with Jonathan if we have a glut of picks see if we can move up a bit and get something good.

Posted by: Reznor | May 1, 2015 10:08:50 AM

Thompson himself said he was not anticipating getting drafted until rounds 2 or 3! We could have taken this guy in round 2 and picked up a solid WR or OT in the first round. We were in the bottom half of the league last year in scoring…Why draft a player to come in and play LB – the one position we are 100% loaded with Pro-bowlers? Cam must be quite disappointed…in Oher we trust?

Posted by: Brian | May 1, 2015 10:46:43 AM

Gettleman has far more hits in his 2 drafts than Hurney did on average (Hurney would hit on 1st round and then typically bomb). So I will trust in his evaluations, he and Rivera seem to make a good tandem.

Posted by: Rick | May 1, 2015 10:55:24 AM

This guy is a stud playmaker. It doesn't matter where he plays he will be making an impact in year one, which is what you want out of a first rounder. Were there better picks in that spot? Depends on your perspective. No matter what, the Panthers got a guy with the potential to be a great NFL player.

Posted by: Jay | May 1, 2015 11:12:07 AM

This guy is a third or fourth round talent taken in the 1st round and he does not fill any immediate team needs. This was a poor pick by a team that is in need desperately of OL help even though most all of the top talent was gone at No 25. Special teams player here. A real boner by Gettleman.

Posted by: Whitecomet77 | May 1, 2015 11:32:07 AM

The irony of Thomas Davis announcing this selection tells the whole story! When we drafted TD in '05 he he was considered a tweener, whose versatility was intriguing. Likewise, Shaq has the potential to be a special player in many facets of the game if groomed correctly. I agree that this was a luxury pick and quite frankly IMO a result of having a defensive minded coaching staff. The beauty of this selection is that the OLB/S positions lack depth in this draft, whereas the other position needs that we have don't. Hence ultimately why I believe Gentleman pull the trigger on Shaq and why I'm sure he'll meet needs with quality players for the remainder of the draft.

Posted by: Josh | May 1, 2015 11:57:57 AM

For 1st round pick, I'd rather have stretched for a WR, S, or OL. Using it for a solid special teams player seems a bit of an underachievement to me.

Posted by: DT | May 1, 2015 11:58:32 AM

As a Washington fan, I can tell you you're getting a heck of a player in Shaq. I really wish he was staying at UDub another year, but our loss is your gain. He's a beast. He's quick sideline to sideline, always around the ball, and while he's not as big as most NFL LBs, he hits with authority. He was the #2 prep safety out of high school, and I was actually shocked we got him over USC. He is legit. It sounds like Collins sort of messed up your draft order, and perhaps they reached with Shaq, but you won't be disappointed.

Posted by: nwsurfrider | May 1, 2015 12:20:30 PM

Wait, Washington Post is calling us a mediocre team? Oh yeah, that's right they should know....they have to cover mediocre teams every year anyway! Yeah how about those cellar dweller Redskins!

Posted by: Ron | May 1, 2015 12:28:38 PM

"far more hits than hurney on average"....

you guys make me into the president of the hurney fan club.

charles johnson, thomas davis, cam newton, luke keuchly, ryan kalil, jordan gross, greg hardy, deangelo williams, jonathan stewart, chris gamble, jon beason and julius peppers all disagree.

1 franchise player trumps 5 marginal talents in the draft. you can replace marginal guys in free agency, but you can't get franchise players in free agency. hurney got that. so he rolled the dice on guys like edwards and brown and came up empty plenty of times. but the teams were still competitive and better under his watch than under any other. illogical to hate the guy. just like hornets fans hating boris diaw. makes no sense.

this pick.....is eeeeerily similar to a hurney pick. he's an incredibly versatile guy who will either be a star or a bust. no in between. and that's what you want in your draft. but you want the guys to be stars more than busts or you can't survive taking those risks.

he doesn't get any more credit for the aj kleins and tre bostons than hurney does for guys like frank alexander or sherrod martin.

let gettleman build a playoff team (as opposed to have one handed to him) and he'll deserve comments like that.

Posted by: charlottean | May 1, 2015 1:43:12 PM

"Wait, Washington Post is calling us a mediocre team?"

Ron, 5 winning seasons in 20 for KitKats...I'm not sure this even warrants a "mediocre" rating. How would you describe that track record?

Posted by: NASTAR99 | May 1, 2015 2:04:24 PM

Hey charlottean....how are Booney's minority partners doing? He forced any of them out?

Posted by: NASTAR99 | May 1, 2015 2:05:44 PM

TD had the same resume coming out of UGA. The only difference was he was a consensus first round pick. Let's hope Gettlemans eye for talent stays on target.

Posted by: chacha | May 1, 2015 5:15:11 PM

Hey charlottean, how bout that Gurley pick? Siunds like he's going to be ready to roll! Get ready to sign those paychecks over to chacha come fall.

Posted by: chacha | May 1, 2015 5:21:54 PM

Mike Davis just drafted by San Fran. Sucks for us. Was hoping he would be available when we pick.

Posted by: BlueGoose | May 2, 2015 1:26:56 PM

Can someone please explain why we took another LB five picks ahead of RB Artis-Payne pick?? Talk about luxury picks.

Posted by: BlueGoose | May 2, 2015 3:36:43 PM

This pick was horrible . Why did we take him over devin smith , justin hardy and breshad? Where is he going to play?' He cant tackle or cover i hate this pick , we should of got cam a lt

Posted by: ludwig | May 3, 2015 6:28:18 PM

I agree with Joseph Person - If you need a Safety, take Landon Collins. If you need/want a WR, there were great WRs available. Gettlemen instead decided to draft someone who could play several positions pretty well instead a 'specialist' who plays his one position really well. I can still see the 'wisdom'/reason why Thompson ... what surprised me more was the next pick, giving up several draft picks for a WR who has trouble catching the ball who would have been there closer to if not on our original pick.

Posted by: Easy | May 4, 2015 2:23:32 PM

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