(KTXL) — The NFL Draft is now only a few days away and there are a handful of local players this year expecting to hear their name called.
Shaq Thompson was in their position five years ago.
Thompson went from Grant High School to the University of Washington. From there, he continued to dominate the football field.
“I didn’t care how I got there or what round I went in, if I was drafted in the first or went undrafted, as long as I made it. That was my dream,” Thompson said. “But now my dream is even bigger. I want to make a statement in this league now. I think it’s my turn.”
Still, he was not a first-round lock. In fact, he recalled the waiting as the toughest part of the process.
“Your time is going to come when your time comes. I mean, just sitting and waiting patiently,” he told FOX40. “I mean, you get the same opportunity as a first-rounder if you go undrafted. It’s just you’ve got to work a little bit harder.”
As for making a statement now, Thompson was eased into the starting role he currently holds at linebacker for the Panthers. They recently rewarded him with a four-year extension worth over $54 million.
“Everybody’s path is a little different. Mine took a little longer than I expected but it all worked out in the end,” he said. “And them just blessing me with another four-year extension just shows me how much they were committed to me all along and how much they believed in me all along. But now, for me, now I’ve got to show them what they paid for.”
Thompson and 49ers’ Arik Armstead were two local players who were selected on the same day in the first round back in 2015.
“Me and Arik were supposed to do a big camp this year but it got pushed with the COVID. So, hopefully, we can do it next year,” Thompson said. “I’m going to start doing a lot more in the community.”
The NFL draft begins Thursday evening. Both the 49ers and the Raiders have two picks each in the first round.