FanPost

Pass Rusher – Could a sleeper pass rusher be already on the team?

Taylor Thompson is the Titans 2nd or 3rd TE and was converted to TE after playing DE at SMU. The old regime liked Thompson athleticism and imagined him being a poor man’s Gronkowski. His success or failure at being Gronk like is irrelevant to me and I only want to point out that Thompson has talent that has yet to be maximized. The Titans are looking for an edge rusher to fit into Horton’s defense. Proven guys in free agency will be costly as teams will try to outbid each other and drive up the price. Trying to find one in the draft is a gamble and teams will reach for guys because of need and pass on better players at other positions. Because of this, I propose converting Thompson back to defense as an OLB/edge rusher. We already seen the speed he has and his blocks on special teams were violent to say the least. Imagine him chasing QB’s with that speed and sacking QBs with that violence. Here’s an early scouting report from his college days: "Looks the part — lean, muscular physical specimen with very long arms and big hands. Carries his weight exceptionally well. Moves like a linebacker — natural bender with an athletic stride. Good balance and body control. Can redirect and accelerate. Flashes stack strength power potential. Very smart and accountable. Skill set projects to multiple schemes and positions. Has upside." Notice the line "moves like a linebacker". How interesting that he’s been described in such a way. The new coaching staff had no input into the Gronk clone experiment and has no reason to continue it. They should seriously consider trying Thompson out as an OLB edge rusher and just see what he has. I’m not saying he’ll lead the league in sacks but he could be a nice surprise. He certainly has more experience sacking the QB than catching TD’s. While he did play TE in high school, he was DE all through college and more than likely he’s a more natural defensive player. In college at SMU, during the 2011 season, Thompson posted 9.5 tackles for loss and 8 sacks from the DE position. Not great but not bad either. The Munchak regime failed to maximize the talent already present on the roster and Thompson is only one example. The constant CB battles with Verner were another, because he was clearly the best option. Karl Klug is an undersized DT who in his rookie season posted 7 sacks coming off the bench in rotation but his playing time throughout his time with the Titans became less and less all because he didn’t fit into the mold in Jerry Gray’s defense. So they went out and sign Sammy Lee Hill because he fit the mold (6’4" 338lbs) but he hasn’t done much and anything. I’ve said all along that Klug should’ve been the starter next to Casey. He just outperformed everyone else when he had the opportunity. If the Titans convert Thompson back to defense, his contribution to the team could be much more that his contribution as a TE and give the Titans another option to rush the passer from the OLB position.
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