If teams or fans are taking Mike Mayock's positional rankings as gospel, it's time to take a step back a bit and re-assess one player in particular.
In his most recent rankings, Mayock labeled Washington's Shaq Thompson as a safety instead of a linebacker, the position he played for the Huskies. On Saturday at the Combine, Thompson put any debate about his position to rest. When asked what his position is, he was short and to the point, simply saying "outside linebacker." He clarified that statement shortly thereafter, following a question about what he would tell a team that wanted to move him to safety:
"(I would) tell everybody inside linebacker. (But) teams that I met with, they see me at inside linebacker as a Will."
Thompson played the Will inside linebacker position in Washington's 3-4 defense in 2014, so there's no question that he is familiar with that spot. That position is the one that is most up in the air for the Green Bay Packers during the 2015 offseason as well. With Sam Barrington taking hold of the "Mike" spot over the second half of 2014, Green Bay was left to utilize a combination of an outside linebacker in Clay Matthews, an injured A.J. Hawk, and the ineffective and recently-released Brad Jones at the Will; that is a clear sign that the position needs an upgrade.
At six feet flat and 228 pounds, Thompson is a bit undersized for the position, but he feels that he can still be effective, citing Lavonte David of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as a similar player. "He's a little bit taller than me...he has speed, cover tight ends, running backs, and all that. I feel I can do the same thing."
Perhaps Mayock heard about Thompson's comments, because during his press conference Saturday afternoon the NFL Network analyst said that he sees him as a dime safety who plays linebacker and cannot label Thompson at a single position. Of course, that's contrary to the point of position rankings in general, but considering how constant the use of sub packages has become, that's probably accurate. As such, it seems that Mayock himself realizes that it's a bit silly to have to define him as just a safety or just a linebacker.
Oh, and about those rumors that the former two-way player was also going to work out in running back drills at the Combine? Thompson shot those down as well:
"Running back's out of the question."