Taylor Thompson expects to take a big leap this year in his transition from defensive end to tight end.
Last year, the Titans traded up into the fifth round to draft the defensive end from SMU. However, the Titans never had a plan to use him on that side of the ball. They decided to try and use his size and athleticism on offense. The experiment has gone pretty much as expected so far but this year we will get a much better idea if Thompson can cut it as an NFL tight end.
Last season for Thompson was filled with rough patches and only a handful bright spots. At times, he looked confused or overmatched. Other times, he was shedding linebackers and bursting into the secondary to run his routes. In only a few chances last year, he showed why the Titans had dreams of a versatile tight end and why it is not an easy transition to make.
Entering his second year, Thompson is slated to be third on the Titans depth chart for tight ends. He falls behind veterans Craig Stevens and Delanie Walker. Stevens is a great blocking tight end and Walker was brought in to replace Jared Cook as the No. 1 guy.
Thompson may not get too many opportunities this season either but he must be ready to explode when he gets his chance. I do expect the Titans to run some three tight end packages that allow Thompson to create mismatches. When this happens, it is very simple: catch the ball. I believe Thompson has the size and ability to get open at this level but he must catch the ball when it is delivered.
Although his opportunities may be limited, Taylor Thompson needs to take advantage of every single one.