NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The Titans added speed and strength during the 2012 NFL Draft. More important, general manager Ruston Webster and coach Mike Munchak said, is that they added competition at multiple positions. Webster and Munchak believe that increased competition will make everyone better as they battle for roster spots and playing time on Sundays.
Here's a recap of the Titans' draft choices:
Round 5, 145th overall: TE Taylor Thompson, Southern Methodist
Thompson starred in the Texas prep ranks as a tight end, but SMU installed a spread offense that didn't use a tight end shortly after Thompson enrolled. Instead of transferring, he switched to defensive end and helped end the Mustangs' 25-year bowl drought in 2009. Although he did not record a catch in his college career, the Titans like his size, speed and hands at the position.
College stats: Thompson made 43 consecutive starts at defensive end and compiled 139 tackles, 22.5 tackles for loss and 18 sacks. Thompson recorded eight sacks and forced six fumbles during his senior season.
Thompson on how his experience as a defensive end will help him at tight end:
"Since I played defensive end for the past four years in college, I kind of have the mindset of the opponent. A huge thing in football is to understand the enemy. I have that athletic side of me that I can bring to offense that I can really be an aggressive and athletic tight end to help make plays in the pass game and in the run game."
Offensive coordinator Chris Palmer on how Thompson will be developed as a tight end:
"I will tell you what the Fortune 500 clubs do. They recruit liberal arts education schools so they can bring people in that aren't brainwashed. You cannot find a tight end that blocks on the college level. It's all spread, it's all releasing, and it's a different game. I think in years past, you would be able to say, 'Hey, these tight ends are all blocking.' You cannot find a tight end that is blocking in today's college game. I don't buy that he is four years behind. There are no bad habits. John Zernhelt, our tight ends coach, is a former offensive line coach, I think, that is going to help in his development up to the position.
Munchak on Thompson's approach to the game:
"His personality is he's willing to do anything to help the team win. I just think he's a unique individual. When you meet him, you'll kind of get a better feel for what I'm talking about. I think he's a guy we're targeting on the offensive side of the ball right now, but the point is, in a pinch, he can do a lot of things for us. Besides special teams, like we said, if something ever happened on the defensive side of the ball, he's got experience there. That's something that we're always looking at down the road, but right now it'd be more on the offensive side initially and just kind of see where it goes. See how he can best help us win."