Two-Way Prospect Makes Stop in Green Bay

One of the draft's sleepers had eight sacks as a senior but hopes to make it in the NFL at tight end. Among a combined 20 visits and on-campus workouts was a trek to Green Bay. We tell his story in yet another Packer Report exclusive.

Taylor Thompson bet on himself.

With the NFL Draft just a day away, it appears Thompson will win his bet.

Thompson, a two-time all-Conference USA first-team selection for SMU, closed his career with eight sacks and six forced fumbles as a senior. At 6-foot-6 and about 285 pounds, he was a promising late-round prospect, whether it be at defensive end or outside linebacker.

Instead, Thompson thought his ticket to the NFL might mean going back to the future with a move to tight end.

"I was pretty confident in (my decision)," Thompson told Packer Report. "I played the position in high school and I'm pretty athletic. After I went to the all-star game (Players All-Star Classic) and saw how well I adjusted to it and how much demand there is (for athletic tight ends) right now, it was kind of a no-brainer."

Thompson's whirlwind path to the draft ended on Tuesday, when he worked out for the Seattle Seahawks. Thompson said he went on 10 or 11 visits — including to Green Bay, according to a source — and had nine workouts.

Spencer Havner gained something of a cult following by playing tight end and linebacker, and that would be Thompson's role if he were to wind up in Green Bay.

"I have talked to some teams that are also looking at me for outside linebacker," Thompson said. "It's really just up to them. I know with the Packers, the Packers were looking at me to also play linebacker. It's really whatever the coaches want and whatever they think is the best fit."

A two-way role is something Thompson would relish.

"It'd be awesome," he said. "It's really rare. It'd be a lot of fun."

At Prosper (Texas) High School, Thompson was's 37th-ranked tight end, with 58 catches for 960 yards during an all-state senior season. Vanderbilt wanted him to play tight end but Thompson decided to stay close to home and play defensive end for the Mustangs.

Four years later, during the month between SMU's regular-season finale and its bowl game, coach June Jones encouraged Thompson to kick off the tight end rust as a way of bettering his draft chances.

"So, those last few weeks, he started catching a lot of balls, running more and getting himself ready for the workout days," Jones told the Dallas Morning News. "I noticed he was losing weight. In the bowl game he was down from 285 to 260. After the bowl he told me he was going to go as a tight end."

Thompson hopes to follow the same path to stardom blazed by the Saints' Jimmy Graham. At his pro day, Thompson measured 6-foot-6 and 259 pounds, with a 4.56 in the 40-yard dash and vertical jump of 37 inches. Graham, a basketball player who caught 17 passes during his only season of football at Miami, was 6-foot-6 and 260 pounds, with a 4.56 in the 40 and 38.5-inch vertical leap at his pro day.

Graham, of course, needed just two seasons to become arguably the NFL's best tight end. He caught 99 passes with 11 touchdowns in 2011.

"He's inspired me because he's shown that you can make the change," Thompson said. "It doesn't matter if you've played tight end for five years or 10 years or one year. He's shown that you can go to the NFL and have success with that limited experience."

"He can run, catch and he's a smart guy," Jones said. "His numbers are unbelievable. He's kind of freaky, athletically."

NFL scout Dave-Te' Thomas called Thompson one of his sleepers and predicts he'll go in the fourth or fifth round. In a weak tight end class in which all of the top prospects have their warts, it wouldn't be a shocker if Thompson goes in the third round.

"It's amazing. It's been an amazing experience," Thompson said. "This past month especially, I've been so busy that it's been hard to think about it, but now that I have some time on my hands to really embrace where I am and how far I've come, it's pretty amazing."

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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at

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