The Pittsburgh Steelers love versatile players. Always have. The theory dates back to the early years of Bill Cowher's tenure as the head coach. Kordell Stewart, Antwaan Randle El and Hines Ward. Now Mike Tomlin has continued the trend with players like Will Johnson and Dri Archer, not to mention versatile offensive linemen like Doug Legursky, Ramon Foster and Kelvin Beachum. The more positions you can play, the more desirable you are as a prospect.
Put a check mark in the versatility column next to NFL prospect Shaq Thompson.
Some might not know who Thompson is due to his playing college football in the Pacific Northwest at Washington, but there is a reason the young man won the Paul Hornung award for most versatile player in college football last year. In 2014, Thompson played inside and outside linebacker, running back and lined up at safety on more than one occasion. He scored 6 touchdowns, two on offense and four on defense.
Just google his name and you'll see numerous highlight reels of Thompson making plays on both side of the ball and having a knack for finding the football. He has declared defense to be where he will be putting his full attention at the NFL level, but if the Steelers are wise they take a long look at Thompson as someone they want to have on their roster.
Not only would he fill a myriad of roles with the team as a potential safety in sub package football, could play any of the linebacker positions to add depth and could even be used as a running back if needed to add to the stable of backs already on the roster. Those are a lot of positions filled by just one draft choice.
There is something else to Thompson. A 'me against the world' attitude you see on occasion in the NFL. You've seen it with players like James Harrison and Joey Porter. Players who weren't supposed to amount to much but their internal drive propels them to bigger and better things. Just take a look at this tweet Thompson sent out, and to me, it says volumes about his internal drive.
Met a fan yesterday nd he told me "man they are sleeping on you!" I agree! just let them sleep . Whatever round best believe you going see— Shaq Thompson (@ShaqThompson_7) April 25, 2015
So, all this sounds great, but you might be wondering when Thompson should be drafted? NFL.com has him listed as being drafted in the 2nd or 3rd rounds of the draft, and I would have to agree. If I am the Steelers and Thompson is on the board with the 87th pick in the 3rd round, I am taking him without hesitation. Players like Thompson simply don't grow on trees, and his playmaking ability would only enhance a young and athletic core of the 2015 Steelers defense. I'll be honest, I would even consider taking him in the second round of the draft if the chips were to fall a specific way.
Thompson's versatility and desire make him a very attractive NFL prospect, but especially for a team like the Pittsburgh Steelers.