- Paul Kuharsky, ESPN Staff Writer
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NASHVILLE -- The NFL draft is often an exercise in weighing production against potential.
In the scales of that debate over Taylor Thompson, the Titans went heavily with potential.
The Titans traded up 10 spots with Miami and spent pick No. 145 in the fifth round on Thompson from SMU. In an offense that didn’t use tight ends, he played defensive end.
Now the Titans will look to develop a guy who hasn’t regularly played the position since high school. The Titans fell in love with Thompsonat a no-name all-star game and a pro day.
They insisted his athleticism, enthusiasm and intelligence will quickly offset the lack of college experience at the position. At 6-foot-6 and 260 he ran a 4.58 40 on the watch of Titans scout Jon Salge.
“As far as a receiving tight end, I think he’s uncanny,” offensive coordinator Chris Palmer said. “… I don’t think it’s four years behind. There are no bad habits.”
Are there good habits from not playing?
Palmer said Thompson had 10 visits.
“It’s not like we’re the only one who saw the acorn,” he said.
In a conference call, Thompson spoke very confidently about his ability to play tight end in the NFL.
Mike Munchak said the Titans thought Thompson would be gone in the third round. The lack of blocking experience would be virtually the same even with a guy who has played tight end in college, Munchak said, because spread offenses are all the rage and few players do in college what will be asked of them in the NFL.
“He’s not going to fail,” Munchak said.
Thompson will rate as the Titans second receiving tight end behind Jared Cook. They also have a quality blocker in Craig Stevens. Veteran Daniel Graham, added last year, is due a $2 million base salary this year and will now likely not get to it.
Tennessee has made five picks. Two areas regarded as needs have not been addressed: interior offensive line and defensive end.
Munchak said the Titans are not in dire need on the offensive line, downplayed visits by veteran centers early in the free agency period and hit a theme he used after getting the job: "We have guys we can win with."
He also said the team planned on getting at least one defensive lineman and third-round tackle Mike Martin took care of that.