The consensus mock draft pick for the Carolina Panthers was offensive tackle D.J. Humphries. However, the former Gator was selected by the Arizona Cardinals, one pick before the Panthers. The organization turned their attention to the defensive side of the ball and selected former University of Washington’s Shaq Thompson.
There may not be a more versatile player in this draft than Thompson, as he played outside linebacker and safety on defense as well as running back at the collegiate level. Even though he averaged over seven yards a carry, he has made it clear that he wants to play on the defensive side of the ball.
There is some question of where exactly he fits in at the NFL level, whether he is a strong safety or an outside linebacker. The Panthers though have had some success with these type of athletes and fans need to look no further than the man who announced the pick, outside linebacker Thomas Davis. The former Bulldog played safety at college but was able to make the transition to outside linebacker in the NFL.
One of the weaknesses of this defense a season ago was they didn’t have that third linebacker who could help in passing situations. Towards the end of the season, the team had to resort to using their nickel defense with injuries to A.J. Klein.
Thompson fixes this problem and should be able to step in immediately in these sub packages because he has the physical abilities to drop back into coverage. That may be all the team can expect his rookie season as he is a bit of a project and will take some time for him to develop into a full time outside linebacker, which is where I believe he will fit best in the long run.