Earlier today it was announced that veteran tight end Daniel Graham was bound to be released by the Tennessee Titans. As our own Justin Stewart pointed out, Graham just wasn’t worth the money he was getting for a non-essential piece to the tight end puzzle. Head coach Mike Munchak said that the emergence of the young guys at tight end also led to the move.
The release of Graham makes it easy to see that the coaching staff is invested in the development of these young tight ends. Jared Cook has been very inconsistent throughout his short career, but seems to be finally ready to break through as a game-changing tight end. Craig Stevens is way more of a blocking tight end, which is what Graham was brought in to do. So if Stevens takes over Graham’s small duties that leaves another spot for a pass-catching tight end.
Welcome, Taylor Thompson.
The Titans drafted Thompson in the 5th round of this year’s draft, trading up to get him. Obviously, they saw something that they liked in him and, so far, the returns have warranted the move.
As I wrote back about a month ago, Thompson has been making incredibly good first impressions. Thompson played defensive end in college, but is apparently making a very seamless transition to tight end. Titans beat writer Jim Wyatt constantly tweets about Thompson when training activities are open to the media.
Titans coaches and the front office weren’t the only ones who believed that Thompson had a lot of potential as a tight end coming out of the draft. Russ Lande, draft analyst for The Sporting News, fell in love with Thompson at a college all star game. He wrote,
…Thompson did not look like a player who had not played tight end much since high school today. Despite being upright in his pass routes, he showed very good speed for such a big tight end. He looked a lot like Rob Gronkowski physically and showed good hands catching the ball.”.
Certainly we can’t expect Thompson to become Gronkowski, but he caught peoples’ attention in that way for a reason. He may be raw and may have a lot to learn, but this team needs a third tight end that can make an impact from the get go. He’s big, he can run, and from what we’re hearing, he can catch the ball like a natural.
If anything, he can help us on special teams as he was a pretty good defensive player in college. This was a win-win draft pick for the Titans. Not the first and definitely not the last.
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