TE TAYLOR THOMPSON
(on the switch from defensive end to tight end)
At first it was a challenge to switch back over, or even to switch from tight end to defensive end in college, but it was what the team needed and it was best for the Mustangs. It was kind of out of necessity that I did that and it took a while for me to learn how to do it, but now I am back playing tight end again, so it feels natural.
(on when he started moving back towards playing tight end)
It was really towards the end of my season at SMU. We had about a week and a half before the bowl game and Coach (June) Jones had a package that he put in with big guys, and he and Coach (Dan) Morrison were talking to me after practice one day and offered to get me into the All-Star Game as a tight end. I started the NFL draft as a defensive end and then I had a lot of teams that wanted to draft me as a tight end, so I went that way.
(on why he decided to decommit to Vanderbilt out of high school)
I was planning on actually going to Nashville out of high school, and switched to SMU about a week before I signed. I was from Texas and I just had cold feet. My family was in Texas and I decided to stay close to home.
(on the irony of coming to Nashville after college)
Yeah it is. It's kind of funny how that happened and how things work out that way. I guess I was meant to go to Nashville after all.
(on what he brings to the table as a tight end)
Since I played defensive end for the past four years in college, I kind of have the mindset of the opponent. That's 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.
(on who he thinks he compares with in the NFL)
Yeah, I would say (Rob) Gronkowski with the Patriots, he is a big physical guy. (Jimmy) Graham with the Saints, he is just an athlete who is a basketball player who decided to try out for football his last year of college. Any of the big physical guys who can make plays and run down the field that can also help in the run game.
(on the skill of his hands)
I have great hands.
(on if he ever worked out with the Titans)
No, I didn't. I went up there and visited there a couple weeks ago in Nashville. I went in for a physical and met the coaches. I talked to Coach Z (John Zernhelt) for a little bit and a couple of players, but no, I didn't have a workout with them.
(on his current speed)
Right now I'm probably a 4.5. I have run 4.4s before. I would say that I'm one of the fastest at this position.
(on how difficult it was to lose 30 pounds or so)
I probably actually lost about 15-20 over the course of my senior year and going into the bowl game. I probably played senior year at about 275. I've gotten down to 260, high 250's. Right now I'm about 265. It's all about diet.
(on if he could have made it in the NFL as a defensive end)
Oh yeah. I definitely could have done that. It would have been tougher for me because of my build. I'm more of a tall guy. To hold weight takes a lot of work. It's probably easier for me to play at 265 versus 285. I feel more fluid and functional and it's definitely easier on my body.
(on when he visited with Titans if they gave any indication how he could be used with the team)
We only discussed a little bit because I didn't play the position in college. As an overall perspective I really like their philosophy with being functional. Coach Z (John Zernhelt) is a really good coach, the tight ends coach there. He is a really great guy. I think it's going to be a really great fit with us.
(on if he was surprised where he went in the draft)
Obviously there were questions because there is no film on me in college. I've played obviously, as a tight end. I've had about 10 workouts as a tight end. I had the Pro Day as a tight end. It was, I think, just enough film on me to make me a prospect. But, I think that was definitely one of the things that was holding me down.
(on which other teams he met with)
I visited Baltimore, the Jaguars, the Raiders, the Seahawks, the Bears, the Packers, the Bengals and Eagles. I think I had one or two more.
(on how many receptions he had in the All-Star Game)
I had two receptions in that game.
(on how many yards he had in All-Star Same)
I think 50-55 yards. There were four tight ends in the game. It was all about splitting time. It was all about the practices because I had tons and tons of reps in practice. The coaches could watch me and evaluate and really get an idea of how I can play the tight end position. It was more about practices.
(on how he switched from tight end to defensive end in college)
I knew that the coach ran the spread over there, or back at Hawaii, I was thinking maybe I can play there as a wide receiver. In high school our offense was a spread offense. I was kind of spread out more often than usual. I ended up getting there and bulked up to about 250, which in a spread offense isn't the best. I ended up getting switched over to defense. Everything was uphill from there I guess.
(on if he thinks he would have been better off if he stayed at tight end)
It's hard to say because we had so much success at SMU. We went to our first bowl game in 25 years while I was there and went to two others after that. It's hard to say because of how everything has played out. I hate to look back and regret anything because I have learned so much. I'm happy the way it played out.
(on if he expects to be involved in special teams)
Definitely. It may take me a little bit to adjust to learn the system. I think that with my defensive background I will be finding myself on special teams.
(on what he thinks about Titans quarterback position) I think it's going to come down to who can help the team the best. Who's going to be the guy, it's hard to say. Hopefully we will get it all figured out and get it rolling by next season.