Shaq Thompson: 'I want to put it out there -- I'm a linebacker'

Washington linebacker Shaq Thompson turned scouts' heads and had a budding Heisman Trophy campaign during his final collegiate season in Seattle, thanks in part to his ability to flip sides during a game and take a few carries at running back.

Thompson was so prolific that he become one of several "running backers" in the Pac-12 and actually started several games for the Huskies on offense. While he primarily was listed as an outside linebacker, his success carrying the ball led many to wonder if he would actually be better off in the NFL at running back.

Such a position change might not be in the cards, however, as Thompson gets set to head to the NFL Scouting Combine next week.

"I want to put it out there: I'm a linebacker. Outside linebacker. Strong side, that's where I feel most comfortable. It's basically like a strong safety," Thompson told USA Today Sports. "Nowadays, this is a passing game. You need linebackers who can cover and drop in zone. And I'm a three-down player. You don't have to take me off the field. Even on special teams, you don't have to take me off. I love special teams, especially kickoff coverage."

Thompson is listed as the No. 42 overall player in NFL Media analyst Daniel Jeremiah's Top 50 players in the 2015 NFL Draft and is widely considered to be one of the top options in the first two rounds at his preferred linebacker spot. Such a declaration might not stop teams from asking him when he arrives in Indianapolis for the combine if he's open to playing tailback but it certainly looks as though the two-way star is hoping to cut such questions off before they're able to be asked.

"He has increased and improved his physicality as a linebacker," noted one AFC South personnel director. "He has an amazing nose for the ball, but a run-heavy team might like him better as a RB. He's talented and growing in that spot as his time on offense has increased. A natural runner."

Thompson seems pretty insistent that he would rather be the one delivering hits instead of taking them, though, and only time will tell which franchise will draft him to do just that.

You can follow Bryan Fischer on Twitter at @BryanDFischer.

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