College: Ohio State
Forty-Yard Dash: 4.55 seconds
Short Shuttle: 4.13 seconds
3-Cone: 6.8 seconds
Michael Thomas exploded onto the scene in 2015 after having lived in former Ohio State teammate’s and current New York Jets’ Devin Smith’s shadow in 2014. There are so many Ohio State draft prospects in the 2016 Draft class, but Thomas is definitely one that stands out. His rare athletic ability will be very appealing to NFL teams across the league, and may even be considered WR1 in this weak class.
As mentioned above, for his size and frame Thomas is a phenomenal athlete that brings many intriguing abilities to the table. That being said, the former Ohio State receiver also has high football awareness. On this play, Thomas runs a solid curl route where he gets clear separation, but what he does after the catch is even more impressive. Thomas has a great “feel” for where the cornerback is, waits until the defensive back overcommits then jumps to the outside with his elusive turn, which gives him an extra twenty yards on the play.
The Third Team All-American also is a top tier route runner, which is shown on multiple different plays. In this clip versus Kendall Fuller of Virginia Tech, Thomas runs an elite double move. Thomas easily beats Fuller for a touchdown, with his insane ability to stop then accelerate immediately after he stops.
Another play against Michigan State shows his quick change of direction and explosion out of his routes. Thomas starts the play with an outside fake then explodes off his outside foot to beat the cornerback to the inside on a short slant pattern. After the catch, Thomas slips one tackler, then uses his speed to race down the sideline for a long touchdown.
Thomas uses his size to his advantage on many jump balls, and pairs that with excellent body control. In these two clips, one against Alabama and the other against Maryland, Thomas shows excellent body control and tracks the ball very well on both catches. More importantly in the touchdown against Maryland he showed the awareness and capability to get two feet down, which is crucial in the NFL level.
Like Treadwell, there are few weaknesses to Thomas’ game as a whole. The former Ohio State Buckeye did have a few concerning lack of concentration drops, but still showed quality hands overall. Thomas’ blocking was very odd to watch on tape. There were times where he showed quality tenacity when blocking, but other reps where he lacked motivation to block at all. Thomas could also benefit by becoming a better improviser when the play breaks down; at times, he stopped when the play broke down instead of continuing to search for open space. That being said, with the transition from Cardale Jones to J.T. Barrett in 2015, he improved as an improviser.
What Others Are Saying:
Jon Ledyard The Draft Wire/USA Today: “Thomas’ stop-start ability in the open field aids him well, as the Buckeyes product shows a surprising amount of shake to cause defenders to miss in space. He’ll fight hard for extra yards too, exhibiting good awareness of the sticks and the ability to shed arm tackles and play physical after the catch.”
Pro Football Focus Wes Huber: “Thomas is a first-round talent that could provide his team with a true No. 1 option in the passing game as well as above-average blocking ability for the run.”
Grade/Round Projection: Top 25 Pick:
Thomas is an elite athlete that will have an instant impact on any team needing a quality weapon. The battle between Thomas, Treadwell, and Doctson is very close for WR1. Sterling Shepard would also be in the mix if it weren’t for his lack of size. Overall, Treadwell has the slight edge because of his NFL level of physicality, which separates him from the other two. Thomas definitely tested better than Treadwell, but athleticism, while important is not everything when it comes to being a wide receiver. All that being said, Thomas has all the tools to be a #1 WR in the NFL because of his elusiveness in space, great route running ability and fantastic body control for tough catches.