Bucs could look to DE for depth at TE

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers could end up drafting a tight end that played defensive end in college.

Southern Methodist University’s Taylor Thompson told Sirius NFL Radio on Saturday night that he will work out for the Buccaneers (as well as several other teams) in the coming days. Thompson was highly-recruited prospect as a tight end coming out of college. But he made the switch to defensive end soon after arriving at SMU, when the team had a rash of injuries at defensive end.

Thompson had a decent, but not spectacular career, as a defensive end. Thompson said he wants to play tight end in the NFL and believes most of the teams showing interest view him as a tight end. Tampa Bay has little depth behind Kellen Winslow at tight end. New Tampa Bay coach Greg Schiano said the college ranks generally aren’t loaded with lots of NFL-quality tight ends. He said that’s why NFL teams sometimes have to go outside the box when looking at tight-end prospects and he talked about how many teams look at former college basketball players.

The Bucs already have a little history at moving college defensive ends to other positions. Erik Lorig played defensive end in college, but they moved him to fullback shortly after he joined them. Lorig also has lined up at H-back and tight end.

When asked to compare himself to a current NFL tight end, Thompson mentioned New England’s Rob Gronkowski. Although Gronkowski is coming off one of the best seasons ever by a tight end (90 catches for 1,327 yards and 17 touchdowns), that comparison might not be all that farfetched. Gronkowski is 6-foot-6 and 265 pounds.

Thompson said he measure in at just under 6-6 in the combine and has shed weight for the expected transition to tight end. Thompson said he now weighs about 260 pounds. He was listed at 287 in his final college season.

Former NFL personnel guru Gil Brandt said Thompson had a strong workout as a tight end at SMU’s pro day and projects him to go somewhere around the fourth round.