Former Grant High School star Shaq Thompson, who went on to star for three seasons at the University of Washington, was the 25th overall draft pick by the Carolina Panthers in Thursday night’s NFL Draft.
Thompson was tabbed to go as high as the late first round and as low as the third or fourth round in the weeks leading up to the draft. Thompson was not in Chicago when his name was called, choosing to remain in Sacramento with family and friends.
He is the second player from the Sacramento-area to be selected in the 2014 draft. Arik Armstead, a defensive end from Oregon via Pleasant Grove High in Elk Grove, was picked17th overall by the 49ers.
It’s the second time in NFL history that Sacramento had two players selected in the first round. In 1983, Ken O’Brien a quarterback from UC Davis and Jesuit High, along with Tony Eason, a quarterback from Illinois and Delta, were first-round picks.
Thompson started at outside linebacker at Washington and had 81 tackles, but was also used as a running back by the Huskies during his junior season in 2014, when he rushed for 456 yards on 61 carries for an average of 7.5 yards per rush.
Thompson scored four defensive touchdowns last season to win the Paul Hornug Trophy as the nation’s most versatile player.
The 6-foot-1, 228 pound Thompson’s versatile talents can be used by a number of ways by the Panthers, certainly on special teams and as a possible weak outside linebacker spot. He also has the skills to be used in the secondary, possibly as a safety, and also has the speed and power to play running back.
Thompson’s talents were such in demand that the Boston Red Sox drafted him in the 18th round in 2012. He played one summer in the Red Sox minor-league system without losing his college eligibility.