Could the Bengals Take Shaq Thompson in the First Round?


Feb 21, 2015; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Washington linebacker Shaq Thompson talks to the media at the 2015 NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

Fansided’s latest mock draft has the Cincinnati Bengals selecting Washington linebacker Shaq Thompson. In the latest mock, Luke Dahlgren has this to say about the selection.

"The Bengals would have really loved to have snagged Collins. Instead, Thompson is the third member of Washington’s defense selected in the first round. Thompson brings fantastic athleticism (he also played running back for the Huskies) along with a flair for forcing turnovers. His ability to read defenses means that he is rarely out of position. One issue is his size, which is built more in the model of a defensive back’s frame.  The Bengals may also choose to go with a cornerback, and again Jalen Collins is a possibility here if he is still available [sic]."

Selecting a linebacker with a penchant for turnover creation would be a nice pick for the Bengals.  Shaq Thompson is a versatile athletic player who could drop in the draft following an underwhelming combine performance.

Although Thompson wouldn’t be the worst pick, the Bengals should be able to do better.  Thompson is built more like a safety, and at linebacker, the Bengals already have several players similar to Thompson: Emmanuel Lamur, Marquis Flowers, and Taylor Mays.  Thompson would also likely struggle in the AFC North where teams tend to emphasize the run: Thompson isn’t exactly a run-stopping thumper.

In Dahlgren’s mock, both Eric Kendricks and Benardrick McKinney are left on the board for linebackers.  Both could make the Bengals’ linebacking group more diverse.  Meanwhile, players such as Malcom Brown, Ereck Flowers, Eddie Goldman, and Bud Dupree are also left on the board.  Each of these players would fill a more pressing need.

Shaq Thompson is an interesting player, but feels more like a gamble than most of the other aforementioned players.  He could turn into a very good NFL player, but he’ll likely need some work both on the field and in the weight room.  The Bengals need results now, so taking a project player in the first, at a position they already seem to have covered, seems like a pick that is less productive than it could be.

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