Often overlooked on a stacked Ohio State offense which featured big names such as Ezekiel Elliott and Braxton Miller, among others. Michael Thomas often flew under the radar in Columbus. Despite the lack of hype, Thomas still managed to be one of the first WRs selected in the 2016 NFL Draft as he went in the middle of the 2nd round to the New Orleans Saints.
Since 2010, the New Orleans Saints have ranked in the top 3 in total passing offense every year and have even led the league three time during that span. When you have Drew Brees tossing the pigskin, your offense is going to rack up yards through the air and even more importantly, fantasy points. So how does Michael Thomas project in that high powered passing attack as a rookie?
First off, let’s look at Thomas’ skillset. The 6’3”/212 pound Thomas reminds me of former Saint great Marques Colston. Both have similar size and overall well-rounded games. Thomas doesn’t have one specific area of his game in which can be considered a ‘super strength’. However, he does just a bit of everything, and does it well. He has above average speed, good hands and he can run solid routes – especially in a friendly New Orleans system. What stands out at you is his competitiveness.
While it’s very early in the training process, Michael Thomas has already received rave reviews from OTAs. He looks to be the next great product of Drew Brees and the Saints offense. Thomas will start opposite Brandin Cooks on the outside – yes, I said start. This means he is surely to see his fair share of targets. Last season the Saints had three receivers eclipse 800 receiving yards – all of whom had at least 3 TDs as well.
With the offseason, the Saints saw two big contributors depart in Ben Watson and the aforementioned Marques Colston. However, they were able to upgrade both positions with the signing of Coby Fleener and drafting of Thomas. No matter how many weapons are on this offense, players are going to produce. Even after the big 3 of Cooks, Willie Snead and Watson – there were 3 other receivers with over 400 yards through the air. Michael Thomas will likely take some production away from Snead and may even outperform him down the stretch once he gets acclimated to the NFL game.
I wasn’t the highest on Thomas heading into the NFL draft based on his lack of one elite trait. However, he presented great value for the Saints in the mid 2nd round and finds himself in one of the best situations of any rookies when you consider the amount of passing a team like the Saints does. He’s an overall solid, well-rounded receiver who will flourish with Drew Brees slinging him the ball. I can easily see him taking over the production of Coslton who hauled in over 500 receiving yards and 4 TDs last season with the upside of a guy like Sterling Shepard – another 2nd round pick who I’m extremely high on. In dynasty leagues, Thomas should be an early pick as he’ll see a consistently productive career in New Orleans – as long as Drew Brees is around.