Thomas was a projected 1st round draft pick by many experts, but fell to the Saints in the 2nd. My money’s on the fact that he will produce better results than at least 2 of the 1st round wide receivers that went in front of him in his rookie season, and beyond.
What makes him dangerous?
Thomas is going to be a threat in the red-zone. He measures out at 6’3” 212 lbs, which gives him the size to bully defensive backs. His biggest strength may be his ability to time his jumps perfectly to high-point the ball and catch it over defenders, which translates to a ton of jump-ball touchdowns for the leading receiver on the 2014 Ohio State National Championship team. 18 touchdowns in his past 2 seasons playing for the Buckeyes is nothing to sneeze at.
Saints head-coach Sean Payton has been hyping up the rookie, and he has showed out in pre-season games so far. In his debut against the Patriots, the wideout posted team-highs in catches (4) and yards. (67)
Why are people sleeping on him?
Thomas showed in college why he can be a red-zone threat in the NFL, but he definitely has work to do when it comes to becoming a well-rounded receiver. While players like Will Fuller and Corey Coleman racked up huge college stats, Thomas never even eclipsed 800 receiving yards in a single season for OSU. This is more due to the style of offense that the Buckeyes ran than the receiver’s pure talent. When you have Ezekiel Elliott and a strong offensive line, you run the ball.
In addition to those facts about Thomas as a player, the Saints offense has plenty of options in the passing game. Brandin Cooks is a threat to score from anywhere on the field. Willie Snead is underrated and I think has 1,000 yard potential this season. Coby Fleener was just given a huge contract to play a position that just turned senior citizen Ben Watson into a top-10 option at the position. Even Mark Ingram caught 50 balls last year out of the backfield despite missing 4 games. Is there even room for Thomas?
55 catches, 775 yards, 8 touchdowns.
Thomas has high-end WR3 potential, but I project him more as a WR4. He could easily out-perform these projections if he establishes a good rapport with Drew Brees. The Saints historically are not afraid to get rookie wide receivers involved in their offense. Two notable wide receivers to have strong rookie seasons with Brees as their quarterback are Willie Snead (69, 984, 3) and Marques Colston. (70, 1038, 8) Many are making the Colston comparison, and he definitely has the opportunity to play that role in this offense.
Where should I draft him?
Here are the ADP numbers for Michael Thomas:
Redraft: Overall Thomas’ average is 116.3 which is somewhere between round 9 and 11 depending on how many teams in your league.
The hype for Thomas is definitely rising, but his ADP suggests that he is being picked in a good spot. He is being selected around other young receivers who have a shot to break out like Corey Coleman and Devin Funchess.
Rookie drafts: Pick 1.06 overall and WR5.
This is on the money. I wouldn’t take Thomas before Elliot, Shephard, Treadwell, Coleman, or Doctson, but he is definitely the next pick unless you are huge on Tajae Sharpe. I could even see the argument to take Thomas over Doctson, (i’m not a huge Doctson fan) but Doctson is in line to become a big part of the passing game in the coming years as DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon get pulled down further by father time.
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