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What Should We Expect From Taylor Thompson?

Why is Craig Stevens the picture?  Anything's better than the picture of Taylor Thompson's arm again.
Why is Craig Stevens the picture? Anything's better than the picture of Taylor Thompson's arm again.

The MCM community has high hopes for several offensive stars this season, but it's easy to forget about the man that sent us rifling through draft guides and scouring YouTube in April. Even after that, we don't have much information about Taylor Thompson. I know he's from SMU and...well I know his name. I also know his position, but didn't even know that until the Titans told us which position they'd get him to play. As you know, Thompson played defensive end in college and will be a tight end here. Switching positions is always challenging, especially when going from college to the big league. The Titans clearly have faith in him, particularly in his athleticism, but it is still a monumental leap. His experience playing tight end in high school should be an asset, but how long will the process take? Can he provide anything this year?

For this I want to hear MCM's opinions. I looked at tight ends drafted in the fifth round or later and the rookie seasons they posted. As expected, most didn't have much first year production. Four had over 400 yards, another six had over 300 and 16 more had over 200. None of that will impact what numbers Thompson puts up this year, but I wanted to illustrate that not many late round tight ends (since 1980, in the search) have had an early impact. As you can see from the list, most of those players weren't starters for their respective teams. That too is not a surprise, but it does lead into a second question. Is Taylor Thompson even our backup tight end? Craig Stevens has done some admirable work for the Titans the past few seasons, and I think he's underrated. He's not spectacular, but you know what you're getting with him. He's a capable blocker who can make a catch if the opportunity arises. All this leads me to believe that we won't see much from Taylor Thompson this year. He has the potential to be very good in the future, but 2012 will be a developmental year.