Scout projects Shaq Thompson as first- or second-rounder

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If the latest word from the NFL scouting community about Washington two-way standout Shaq Thompson is on target, the junior can expect to hear his name early in the NFL draft.

The question is, how early?

Thompson projects as a first- or second-round draft pick if he chooses to leave UW after the season and enter the 2015 NFL Draft as an underclassman, an NFL scout told Sports Illustrated.

Of course, the difference between a high first-round pick and a low second-round pick, contract-wise, is a wide gap. In this year's draft, No. 1 overall pick Jadeveon Clowney received a guarantee in excess of $22 million, while the last pick of the second round, Missouri offensive lineman Justin Britt, was guaranteed less than $1 million. As such, Thompson might be looking for much more specific guidance after the season in making his decision on early entry.

Nevertheless, the scout is sold on Thompson's talent and, like Thompson himself, sees him as a defensive prospect.

"He's little, but he's really good," the scout told SI. "He's kind of rangy. He looks like a safety kind of."

The scout also said Thompson (6-foot-1, 228 pounds) compares to a bigger Lavonte David, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' standout linebacker. Defensively, Thompson has made 54 stops this year and scored four defensive touchdowns. He is a semifinalist for the Butkus Award as the nation's top linebacker. For now, however, it looks like Thompson will be operating at running back after a 15-carry, 174-yard performance Saturday against Colorado.

Follow Chase Goodbread on Twitter *@ChaseGoodbread*.

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