SEATTLE — No team will offer up a quartet of defensive talent when the NFL draft starts on April 30 like Washington, so it shouldn’t be a surprise that the Huskies’ pro day was overflowing with coaches and scouts eager to see what Danny Shelton, Marcus Peters, Shaq Thompson and Hau’oli Kikaha had to offer, though only Kikaha participated in the testing of measurables.
While all four are first-round prospects — Shelton seems a certainty not to last until Round 2 — their draft narratives aren’t the same.
Shelton is the polite, thoughtful academic All-American who just happens to be remarkably light on his feet for a run-stuffing, pocket-mashing 338-pounder who has little to prove.
Thompson, who sported a “Superman” tank top during the workout, is the tweener safety/linebacker. He tipped the scales at 228 pounds and completed drills for both linebackers and defensive backs, showcasing plenty of explosive quickness. His biggest issue is finding a position, a challenge that includes telling suitors he has no interest in playing running back, which he did for the Huskies during much of the 2014 season.
“I got [a question about playing running back] today,” Thompson said. “I kind of made him mad because I told him I didn’t want to play running back anymore. Everybody has pretty much said strong safety or ‘Will’ linebacker.”
Kikaha is a tweener defensive end/outside linebacker, though his production as a pure pass-rusher should overcome that quandary — had had a nation-leading 19 sacks this past season. One issue he apparently has overcome is his injury history, as two seasons were killed by ACL surgery.
“It’s kind of gone away since the combine,” he said. “There were about 100 doctors who checked it out. They all seem to be pretty happy with it. No one has asked [about] it since.”
Peters is the most complicated of the four. The wide consensus is he’s a first-round talent, but he was kicked off the Huskies by first-year coach Chris Petersen following a confrontation with an assistant coach during practice, one of many issues he had with his new coaching staff. Though he patched things up enough with Petersen to participate with his former teammates at pro day, his coachability is a big question, one that he didn’t embrace talking about with reporters afterward.
“We talk about it and we move on. Playing for the future,” he said when asked about discussions he’d had with NFL personnel men concerning his past problems.
This foursome led 20 Huskies who worked out for the scouts on hand, including former quarterback Keith Price. Among the curious watching Washington’s pro day were Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider, as well as new Washington Redskins GM Scot McCloughan.
Each of the Huskies’ fearsome foursome admitted that they are happy the draft process is winding down, though each will have a handful of meetings with teams before the draft.
Said Shelton, “This whole process is exciting, but exhausting that the same time.”