Demaryius Thomas, WR, Georgia Tech
Weight: 224 pounds
40 time: 4.52
An extremely talented wide receiver who is following in the footsteps of his former teammate Calvin Johnson, Demaryius Thomas has a tremendous combination of size, speed, and athleticism for a receiver prospect.
A three-year starter for Georgia Tech, Thomas caught 120 passes for 2,339 yards (19.5-yards per catch) and 15 touchdowns; his best statistical season came in 2009 when he averaged a phenomenal 25.1-yards per catch, having caught 46 passes for 1,154 yards and eight touchdowns.
Thomas has a tall, long frame with big hands needed to catch anything thrown in his direction as well as the long arms and strength needed to beat the jam at the line of scrimmage. Demaryius has very good speed down the field and is one of the top downfield threats in this year’s draft. He is consistently able to get behind the secondary and provide his quarterback with a large target to throw to down the field. He’s shown a great vertical with the ability to highpoint the ball and go up and grab it out of the air; in a jump ball situation, he does a great job of shielding away the defender with his size and strength. His ball skills and body control in the air both fantastic. Thomas has also shown that he isn’t afraid to work across the middle of the field in traffic to make a catch. With how big and strong he is, he has shown the ability to be a consistent blocker out on the edge for his team.
For as talented as Thomas is, there are almost just as many question marks. Having played in a triple-option offense for the majority of his career with the Yellow Jackets, Demaryius is going to have to make an adjustment from playing in a run-oriented offense in college to a pro-style offense in the NFL. Because he played in the triple-option offense, he wasn’t asked to run many pro-style routes and was mainly asked to get downfield and be a big-play threat for an offense. While he did a terrific job of doing that, he’s going to need to refine and polish up his route running with his position coach at the next level.
In addition, Demaryius broke his foot in February before the Combine and will not be able to work out for teams prior to the draft; while this isn’t a huge concern in my opinion, it would have been nice to see how he fared playing in an environment more suited to the NFL at the Combine and in individual workouts. Teams are going to need to check into his foot injury to make sure he checks out okay.
Demaryius doesn’t offer a whole lot of elusiveness after the catch and he is more of a long-strider who has build-up speed rather than a burst off the line. He does more running over defenders with his strength than he does evading them with quickness and agility. I project that Thomas will be drafted in the late-first to early-second round.
Demaryius Thomas is an outstanding talent at the receiver position whose upside and potential are unlimited. He projects similarly to how Calvin Johnson did when he entered the draft in 2007, in that he has the potential to develop into a future No. 1 receiver for a team. He may need a year or two to adapt to the new offense he’ll be playing in at the next level, however I think that Thomas has everything needed to develop into a Pro Bowl-caliber wideout for a team at the next level. His best football may still be in his future.
Notes: Demaryius is nicknamed “Bay-Bay,” which is why his jersey read “B. Thomas” in college. Thomas was named first-team All-ACC in 2009. Coming out of high school, Demaryius was rated as the No. 34 player in the state of Georgia and the No. 58 wide receiver in the country by Rivals.com. Between his junior and senior seasons in high school he caught 88 passes for 1,086 yards and 10 touchdowns. He also played basketball in high school and was a part of his school’s state-championship winning team.
A big, talented receiver with first-round potential and a foot problem that will keep him from working out for teams prior to the draft... Michael Crabtree, anyone? Here’s the major difference: Crabtree was ultra-productive in college, while Thomas was a lightly-used deep threat on a run-first offense. You could project Crabtree to the NFL based on what you saw from him in games—running routes, making plays, etc. With Thomas, it’s all about his size, his alleged speed (supposedly there’s a tape of him running a sub-4.4 40 prior to his foot injury), and his Sistine Chapel-esque ceiling of potential.
Generally, rookie wideouts don’t offer much fantasy value in Year One. And while Thomas has the size to fit into the exceptions category (Randy Moss, Anquan Boldin, Marques Colston), he’ll have an even steeper learning curve with regards to NFL routes. That, along with the possibility that his foot injury will linger into minicamps and beyond, preventing him from getting valuable preseason reps with his new team, temper his immediate upside. On the other hand, the one route he does excel at—going deep and outrunning and/or outdueling a smaller defender for the ball—usually results in big yardage and copious touchdowns. So there’s at least some short-term value. Long-term, with Thomas drawing comparisons—physically, at least—to fellow Yellow Jacket Calvin Johnson, he’s definitely worth stashing on a fantasy roster.