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Chris Petersen: Shaq Thompson's best position is running back

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His college coach has weighed in on the "What position is best for Shaq Thompson at the next level?" debate, and his answer is surprising.

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Washington coach Chris Petersen told Sports Illustrated he thinks the best position for Thompson, who played mostly linebacker with the Huskies, is running back. Thompson (6-foot-0 1/8, 228 pounds) did see time at tailback with the Huskies, rushing for 456 yards in 2014, and went through some running back drills at the NFL Scouting Combine.

"What do I think is his best position? Running back," Petersen said. "I know he doesn't want to do that. He probably wants to play longer. He knows the shelf life of running backs. He's just so unique because he's just a football player."

Petersen also said, "I know he sees himself as a linebacker. That's where he spent the last three years."

Thompson is considered a fringe first-round pick. NFL Media analyst Bucky Brooks has Thompson as the No. 2 outside linebacker in the draft, while fellow analyst Mike Mayock has Thompson as the No. 2 safety available. No NFL Media analyst currently sees him as a first-round pick, though.

Petersen said Thompson is "a safety that drops down like a linebacker. That's what I think he is. He can tackle like a linebacker. He's pretty explosive. He's a physical guy."

A potential concern for Thompson is that he is seen as a jack-of-all-trades but a master of none. His versatility is a selling point -- to a point, anyway. Does a team draft him at linebacker? At safety and hope he can make a smooth adjustment? Or as a running back? Washington's pro day is one of the last ones, on April 2, and Thompson's drill work -- at whatever position(s) -- certainly will be noteworthy that day.

Mike Huguenin can be reached at mike.huguenin@nfl.com. You also can follow him on Twitter @MikeHuguenin.

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