IDP stud linebacker Luke Kuechly decided it was time to hang up his cleats after the 2019 season ended. Now, Shaq Thompson looks to be the main man in the middle for the Carolina Panther defense.
Shaq Thompson was drafted by the Panthers in 2015 in the first round. He was the 25th pick in that draft. Played college ball out of Washington University. Being a first-round pick, he was considered to be one of the better linebacker prospects. Since then, he’s been playing next to a possible future Hall-of-Famer. Luke Kuechly had been the man in Carolina since 2012. At the end of last season, Kuechly decided he was going to retire. He had 144 total tackles last season. That leaves quite a few tackles to be spread about for the rest of the Carolina defense. It also depends on what the Panthers do in the draft this week. Even so, I fully believe Shaq Thompson is about to see a large jump in his production numbers.
The Panthers lost two of their biggest IDP contributors this offseason, Kuechly and Eric Reid. Reid may have struggled in coverage and that’s why I believe he was let go. But, he was a tackling machine for Carolina. He had 96 solo tackles and 33 tackle assists, 129 altogether. Reid also had 7 tackle for losses to go along with 4 sacks. In reality, that leaves roughly 270 tackles vacated to the rest of the Carolina defense just from Reid and Kuechly alone. As long as he stays healthy, Thompson is almost a lock to be one of the starters in the middle of that linebacker group. I’ve seen quite a few rookie mock drafts that project one potential IDP impact performer to the Panthers.
Isaiah Simmons, definitely a fan favorite in the IDP community. He was an absolute terror for the Clemson defense last season in college football. He played all over the field and played with a high motor when he was on the field. I know some mocks have him going to the New York Giants with the fourth pick of round 1. Something my gut is telling me that the Giants will pass on Simmons this week for a tackle to shore up their offensive line. I think Simmons’s next most likely landing spot is the Panthers with pick number seven. If he falls to the Panthers, I honestly believe they will take him. His hybrid type of play would put him in a position to succeed and it shouldn’t impact Thompson’s production too much.
Shaq Thompson’s 2019 Statistics: 75 solo tackles, 34 tackle assists, 11 tackles for loss, 3 sacks and 3 passes defended
Thompson finished 2019 with 109 total tackles. Not too shabby when you’re playing alongside the likes of Kuechly and Reid. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him finish 2020 as a top ten linebacker. He’s bound to bump up his numbers in almost every category. I could see him finishing the 2020 season with at least 135 total tackles. He’s shown that he is capable of leaping to the next level with his play. While it is true that he is no Luke Kuechly, neither is anyone else. Kuechly is one of the kind and players of his caliber are rare. Thompson is still a major buy candidate for many IDP players. I would start looking at how you can add him to your squad if possible.
At this current point in time, Thompson’s average draft position(ADP) is 117th. The highest he’s gone is 109th and the latest is 130th. You actually may be able to wait until that 120th pick range to grab him. I’ve noticed that quite a few IDP players are either not aware of the situation that Thompson is in or they’re not completely sold on him. To be realistic, the guy played next to one of the best linebackers to play in the NFL in recent memory. He is sure to have learned many tricks of the trade from Kuechly. I don’t know if there is a better teacher in that position to learn from right now. Kuechly is a future coach material. To make it clear, I am all in on Thompson.
The 2020 NFL draft is just days away. Football fans around the world are on edge and ready for some action. This week is going to give us so many answers about who we want to add to our fantasy teams come draft time. If you can grab any shares of Thompson before this season starts, do it. You may be able to get him for a cheap price. I hope everyone is enjoying these breakout articles. My next piece is going to circle back to a defensive back rising out of Indianapolis, any guesses on who that could be?
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