The Tennessee Titans decided to pass on giving TE Jared Cook the franchise tag. While the Titans could still work out a long-term deal with Cook, that seems very unlikely. The two parties seem to be miles apart on contract numbers and don’t seem to have gotten any closer through talks.
With Cook looking to be a free agent casualty, eyes have turned to the Titans depth at TE. Craig Stevens is a solid starter, but he isn’t anywhere near the receiving target that Jared Cook is. I’ll be the first to praise Craig Stevens for his hands, but he lacks the speed and agility to be a major receiving weapon. He’s the Titans blocking TE. The one guy who could step up to fill in Cookie’s shoes is the guy the Titans drafted to pair with him: Taylor Thompson.
The Titans drafted Thompson last year in hopes of getting a Jimmy Graham type player; a guy who converts to TE after little experience at the position. In Graham’s case, he was a basketball player who quit and switched to football for his senior year. He didn’t do much that season but his size and athleticism lured the Saints into drafting him in the 3rd round of the 2010 NFL Draft.
As for Thompson, he played some WR/TE in high school and was offered a scholarship to Vanderbilt to play TE, but decided to go to SMU where he would spend his college career as a DE thanks to the fact that they don’t utilize DE’s.
In Thompson’s first season with the Titans, he did about as expected… which is nothing. His total season stats were 6 receptions on 13 targets for a total of 46 yards. Perhaps the most memorable moment of Thompson’s season came when he beat the coverage early in the season and was wide open down the field. Locker chucked the ball up for him and… he pulled up short, allowing the ball to fall just out of his reach on what should have been a massive touchdown and a great way to start off his career.
Thompson is still a bit green and needs to ripen before the Titans can lean on him in the passing game. I’m sure a year under his belt and another offseason, especially one in a simplified offensive system, will show a better player, but there still shouldn’t be much expected from him. The Titans should look to bring on another TE to ease the loss of Jared Cook.
Thompson still has plenty to prove and time to do so, just don’t expect him to blow anyone out of their socks in 2013. I’m waiting until 2014 to host my Thompson arrival party.
You can find me on Twitter @JustinLStewart