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Why Taylor Thompson's Development is More Important Than You Think

In a nutshell, because a guy who can block, run and catch is pretty damn useful.

Jared Cook had a career season. He showed the big play potential we expected from him when we moved up in the draft to select him. But with us in need of a tight end and Cook on his way to free agency, his price tag may be higher than it should. Does anyone really think the Titans should overpay for a tight end who is as inconsistent as he is explosive?

In the 2012 draft, the Titans selected Taylor Thompson, a defensive end who wowed scouts when he played tight-end in the Battle for the Rock All-Star Game. The majority of Thompson's playing time has come on special teams where he has displayed some exceptional blocking. With Cooks status uncertain, the question to be asked is which player has the highest upside and deserves the investment from the organization.

Jared Cook's physical attributes are well documented, a 6-5 248 lb monster who runs a 4.5 40 yard dash. But wrap your head around Thompson's numbers. Standing at 6-6 280 lbs (yes, 280!) Thompson towers over small corner backs and even most linebackers. But along with his size, he was able to run a 4.5 40 and that coupled with his stellar blocking skills, something Cook still struggles with, Thompson's upside well surpasses Cook's. Not to mention the fact that he runs fluid routes with smooth hips despite being used to having his hand in the ground on the defensive line. Thompson could be one of the leagues best.

The same can be said for loads of players around the league, and expecting a guy to actually achieve his athletic potential is pretty rare, but never the less, if Thompson could show signs of stardom over the next three games it would be a big deal as the Titans could allow Cook to walk and work with Thompson.

The biggest factor in my opinion is Cook's obvious shortcomings as a blocker. As much as we rave about receiver-like talent, it's fairly useless lining him up on the line as defenses could typically sense he is either a decoy or running a route because using him in pass protection was fairly useless. Thompson's skills a a blocker give him a leg up but he must improve his pass catching recognizing defenses. But these skills come with coaching, and if this coaching staff wants to stick around, they better be putting all there eggs in the Thompson basket and hope for the best.