The Tennessee Titans had their fans’ eyes rolling when they selected Taylor Thompson with their fifth round pick in the 2012 draft. The Titans still had a need (that was never filled) at offensive line and defensive end, but instead took a tight end. A tight end that played defensive end in college none the less. More surprising was that the Titans moved up in the draft to select Thompson, for fear that he wouldn’t fall the 10 spots to them.
It’s obvious that the selection of a defensive end that you want for a tight end in the fifth round has “project” painted all over it. Thompson’s raw materials are great to work with at 6’6″ and 259 lbs. He also ran 4.56 40 yard dash and has a 37 ” vertical. After watching Gronkowski tear it up in New England and tight ends such as Antonio Gates previously paving the way, the Titans were looking for another weapon, even if they had to dig a little deeper to find it.
Thompson’s rookie campaign was less than stellar, but no one’s ready to give up on him yet. Mostly visible on the special teams unit, Thompson’s blocking helped Reynaud on many returns and was instrumental as a key blocker during the Music City Miracle part II against Detroit. He saw limited action throughout the year and managed to drop a handful of the few passes thrown his way.
After Jarred Cook went down with a season ending shoulder injury, Taylor Thompson got his chance to shine in the final games of the season. He ended up with an eye popping 3 catches for 27 yards during the last 2 games, bringing his season total to 6 catches for 41 yards. How much of this is an indictment on him is yet to be seen. He saw limited playing time in an under-performing offense for sure. With another off-season under his belt, this coming year should prove whether Thompson was worth the investment or not, especially if Cook doesn’t come back.
I applaud the Titans for the effort, and the book certainly isn’t written yet. But with how slow they have proven to be at developing early round picks, that should be game ready week 1, how long will it take a project like this? Hopefully Thompson can prove the front office right and develop his hands during this off-season. While I am rooting for Thompson to have success, I also hope the Titans leave the projects for when they are a more established franchise with less immediate needs. They simply aren’t in a position to do this again in 2013.
Overall I grade Thompson out at a “C”. His contribution level was obviously low, and he has a lot to work on, but there weren’t any real expectations for him either. Based on special teams play and blocking, he would grade out higher, but in the NFL you can’t draft guys to play special teams.
Do you think Taylor Thompson will work out?
Tune in Thursday for CB Coty Sensabaugh’s review.
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