Titans' 5th-Round Pick Thompson Looks Like Natural at Tight End in Minicamp
Teams rarely spend fifth-round picks on a player with the intention of switching the side of the ball they play on, but the Tennessee Titans did just that when they selected SMU DE-to-TE convert Taylor Thompson.
The Titans even gave Miami a seventh-round pick to move up 10 spots for Thompson. If early reports are any indication of Thompson's future as a tight end, teams will soon put defensive line as the second-best place to look for raw receiving tight ends after the basketball court.
Thompson hadn't played tight end since high school in Texas, where he garnered all-state honors at the position. SMU's spread offense didn't use a tight end very often, so he switched to defensive end, where he was rated as a draftable player by some outlets, including Athlon, who had him ranked as the 14th-best DE in the draft.
So how did Thompson end up being drafted as a tight end? John Glennon, a writer for Gannett Newspapers in Tennessee, uncovered that SMU head coach June Jones told Thompson to stay after practice and catch balls to work on his offensive skills halfway into his senior season.
Gary Glenn, from the official Titans website, picks up the storyline with a report that Jones told Thompson he could help him play tight end at a college All-Star game, which Thompson did at the Players All-Star Classic.
Obviously, Thompson's small body of work as a tight end impressed the Titans enough to make a strong move him on the draft's third day, and he immediately started winning over observers and teammates at their rookie mini camp. Thompson caught the eye of longtime Nashville Tennessee Titans beat writer Jim Wyatt:
The rookie who made the best 1st impression on me: TE Taylor Thompson, the team's fifth-round pick. He's big and he can run #titans
— Jim Wyatt (@jwyattsports) May 11, 2012
Wyatt fleshed out his thoughts about Thompson's first day of practice on his blog, saying Thompson made the best first impression of any Titans rookie, including first-round pick Kendall Wright.
Wyatt admitted that he was skeptical of the pick at first and that he was withholding praise until he saw Thompson in pads. Glenn had nothing but good things to say about Thompson, calling his routes "smooth" and adding that Thompson was "catching every pass thrown his way."
Second-round pick LB Zach Brown also noticed Thompson, according to Wyatt. Brown noted that the converted DE was fluid, and commented "that big boy can run and he is long." According to Brown, Thompson will put linebackers at a disadvantage.
The Patriots have gotten a lot of press for their lethal two-TE passing offense, and the Colts have attempted to follow suit in the draft this year by taking Stanford TE Coby Fleener and Clemson TE Dwayne Allen in the first three rounds of the draft.
The AFC South is probably the right place to look for the next great two-TE passing offense, but with Jared Cook already hitting his stride and Thompson looking like a ringer on offense, Tennessee could be the surprising answer.
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