Transitioning from the college game to the NFL is tough enough for most guys, but to make the jump to the pros while changing positions form a defensive lineman to a tight end would seem all but impossible.
That was the task set out before Taylor Thompson in 2012, when the Titans selected the former SMU defensive end after trading up in the fifth round to him. Thompson had a draft eligible grade as a defensive end, but that wasn't where the Titans brain trust envisioned him.
Obviously a project to make the move to tight end, Thompson's first season saw the rookie appear in all 16 game, collecting just six receptions for 46 yards. Thompson was a contributor on special teams as well, earning eleven tackles in kick coverage.
Some people were ready to label the move a bust following the 2013 season where Thompson caught just three passes for 13 yards and his first NFL touchdown.
Enter Ken Whisenhunt and a new Titans coaching staff, including former NFL tight end Mike Mularkey, who became Thompson's position coach in January.
Since the start of training camp Thompson, who is a gifted athlete has begun to show signs of the type player Ruston Webster and staff thought he could be as a tight end.
Through the first two preseason games it is Thompson, not Kendall Wright, Justin Hunter or Nate Washington who leads the team in receptions. Thompson has collected eight receptions for 89 yards, including 5 for 56 in Friday night's loss to the New Orleans Saints.
Thompson is long (6'6" 260) with the kind of athleticism to be a major weapon for the Titans offense under Whisenhunt along with Delanie Walker and Craig Stevens to work the middle of the field. He is also an added weapon with his size in red zone situations.
While not ready to add Thompson's name to the list of top tight ends around the league, the light has seemingly come on for Thompson, who was a standout tight end in high school before moving to the defensive side in college, it is easy to see that he is turning the corner and will make it hard for some other players on the roster to knock him out of the third string spot this season.