2016 NFL Rookie Predictions: Michael Thomas needs time

2016 NFL Rookie Predictions: Michael Thomas needs time

Bench presses have been counted, cone drills have been clocked, and tape has been reviewed. While NFL scouts have been scribbling in their notebooks for months, fantasy owners are just now examining this year’s incoming class. Last month I highlighted nine under the radar prospects. Now, it’s time to tackle the bigger names. All of this in the hopes of keeping fans of the virtual game fully informed and a step ahead of the competition. Today’s college stud under the microscope is WR Michael Thomas from THE Ohio State University.

[Other draft profiles: Dak Prescott | Paul McRobertsKeith MarshallPaxton Lynch | Daniel Lasco | Leonte Carroo | Carson Wentz | C.J. Prosise]

College Highlights: Despite churning out an 86 – 1,656 – 21 stat line as a high school senior, Thomas was passed over by many of the more prestigious programs. Instead, he spent a year at Fork Union Military Academy (rooming with future teammate QB Cardale Jones) before enrolling at Ohio State. However, the Buckeyes’ playbook as well as OSU’s academics proved too much for the Los Angeles native, and he was redshirted in his second season. In 2014 everything finally came together for the young wideout. Reeling in 56 balls for 799 yards and 9 TDs, Thomas emerged as the team’s leading receiver. He proved consistent the following year, connecting on 2 more receptions for 18 fewer yards, and the same number of scores.

Pluses: Keyshawn Johnson’s nephew, Thomas comes from quality bloodlines. He also has his uncle’s ideal size, measuring 6-foot-3 and weighing in at 212 pounds. Boasting excellent footwork and a double move that consistently flusters DBs, Thomas knows how to work the field. His balance and body control are unreal at times, allowing him to change direction mid-stride and/or mid-air. Excellent spatial awareness and an ability to tap his toes inbounds with dramatic (as well as effective) flair are among some of his most impressive playing traits. And in possession of an above-average catch radius, Thomas has the potential to be a red zone threat.

Minuses: Lacks elite speed and burst. Will have trouble out-pacing physical DBs at the next level. Doesn’t have the improvisational talent to adjust on the fly or go after poorly placed balls. Struggles with focus issues. Appears to have zero interest in blocking.

Pro-Comp(s): Brandon LaFell, Reuben Randle

Team Fits: Minnesota Vikings, L.A. Rams, New York Giants

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Fearless Forecast: One of the few receivers in this draft class over six feet tall, Thomas’s size will boost his stock. He also possesses many of the tools necessary to succeed at the next level. If he lands on the right team, he could have the opportunity to compete for the No. 2 job. But I don’t think he can win that gig out of the gate. He’s clearly not a quick study. And as much as I dig his agility, I think it’s going to take some time for him to fully digest a more complex offense than the one he grew accustomed to in Columbus. Without elite speed or explosiveness, he’ll need precision and savvy. Right now his game is too “neck up” and prevents me from believing he’ll make an immediate fantasy impact. Eventually, he could put up WR3 numbers, but that’s at least two years away.

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