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NFL Draft Profile: Linebacker Shaq Thompson

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We wrap up our NFL Draft previews by profiling the multitude of talents Washington's most versatile player in a generation brings to the pros.

Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

The NFL Draft is a week away. In honor of the strong senior class being offered by the UW, we will profile a Husky each day leading up to the big event. Today, we continue with linebacker Shaq Thompson.

4/23: Micah Hatchie, OL

4/24: Kasen Williams, WR

4/25: John Timu, LB

4/25: Andrew Hudson, DL

4/26: Danny Shelton, DL

4/27: Marcus Peters, DB

4/28: Hau'oli Kikaha, LB

4/29: Shaq Thompson, LB/DB

Shaq Thompson | Linebacker | 6'0" | 228 lbs

Performance Notes: When Shaq Thompson, Scout.com's No. 3 prospect in the 2012 class, committed to Washington just a few days before national signing day, he became perhaps the most heralded recruit ever to pick the Dawgs. Once on campus, Thompson quickly proved to live up to those lofty expectations, starting every game as nickel cornerback en route to earning honorable mention all-Pac-12 and second-team freshman all-America honors. Thompson rarely showed a dip or regression in his play, too, culminating his junior season by scoring four defensive touchdowns, accumulating 456 rushing yards on just 61 carries (7.48 yards per carry) and winning the fifth-annual Paul Hornung Award as the nation's most versatile player.

Strengths: In addition to being remarkably durable—he didn't miss a single game in his three years at UW—Shaq plays with a sixth sense-like understanding of where he needs to be to make a play, whether that's a routine action like a tackle, or something more exciting such as snagging an interception or scooping up a loose fumble. Consider, for example, that his four defensive touchdowns (three on fumble recoveries along with one pick-six) were more than all but 28 FBS teams during 2014. In addition, he's a high-character guy who never ran into any disciplinary issues during his time at Washington—at least, none that were made public.

Weaknesses: Thompson came into UW listed as 6'2" and 225 lbs. as a high-school senior, and measured 6'0" and 228 lbs. at the NFL Combine. In other words, he's not likely to bulk up much beyond his listed weight, and 228 lbs. seems substantially smaller than most NFL linebackers. It remains to be seen if he'll be able to add more weight and hold his own against NFL offensive linemen who make their way to the second level.

Ideal Fit: Shaq will be best utilized by a defense that positions him as a rover and gives him opportunities to put his nose on the ball and create turnover opportunities. Thompson demonstrated his absurd quickness by registering the top time in the Combine's 20-yard shuttle drill among outside linebackers, at 4.08 seconds, and has hours of tape from his play at Washington showing his skill in taking on opposing players in one-on-one situations. The team that recognizes his skill at making plays in open space will have found itself a monster of a defensive player.

Prediction: Drafted in the second round