NFP Prospect Focus: Shaq Thompson and Hau'oli Kikaha

The University of Washington has several top defensive players in this draft. We have already profiled nose tackle Danny Shelton and corner Marcus Peters. Today will look at one of the more interesting players in the draft, Shaq Thompson, as well as fellow outside linebacker Hau’oli Kikaha. Shaq Thompson – OLB – Washington 6001 – 228 – 4.64 Thompson is interesting in that he could probably play three different positions at the NFL level and be a solid player at each. He has played safety, linebacker, and running back while at Washington. This past season, he got considerable playing time at both linebacker and running back and looked good at both. Strong Points – A true two way player, he has played both linebacker and running back well in 2014. He played some safety as a freshman and is very athletic with excellent change of direction, burst, and overall body control. He is an aggressive playmaker on both sides of the line of scrimmage, shows good linebacker instincts, and is very good in coverage, with good hands and ball skills. Weak Points – His weaknesses are his size for linebacker and speed for a running back. Having to play running back this year hurt his linebacker development. He runs too tall when at running back. He can be a bit slow to shed blocks and is not a top stack linebacker. Summation – Shaq made it clear at his pro day that he wanted to play linebacker in the NFL. That said, the team that drafts him will play him where they want. My opinion is that he is a 4-3 Will linebacker in a 1-gap scheme. He needs to get to about 235 but he has the speed, quickness and instincts to excel at that position. He has excellent upside as a defensive player, but he needs to be in the right scheme. His versatility will allow the team that drafts him to use him in various ways while he is learning the NFL game. Hal’oli Kikaha – OLB – Washington 6024 – 249 – 4.90 (pro day) Strong Points – Kikaha was a consistent two year starter at the University of Washington. He plays the game at a high level of intensity. He is a good athlete who shows good change of direction and explosiveness. He looks and plays faster than he times. He plays like a 4.75 type. He has excellent pass rush production, with 32 sacks over the last two seasons. He knows how to use his hands. He has the frame to get a little bigger. He is a top character guy who was Pac-12 All Academic. Weak Points – He lacks the size to play down as a defensive end, has very average timed speed (4.90), and needs work and has limitations in pass coverage. He is better in zone than he is in man. He has average arm length (32.5) for a pass rusher. Summation – Kikaha played as a standup defensive end at UW. He is a productive and relentless pass rusher and that showed not only at UW but at the Senior Bowl. With his marginal timed speed, some teams may try him at DE, but he lacks the size and growth potential for that position. He will need time to develop his pass coverage skills but should produce as a designated pass rusher as a rookie. He should be a starter by year two. Follow Greg on Twitter @greggabe

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