Wide Receiver -
Combine Height: 6-2
Combine Weight: 216
Combine 40 Time: 4.40
Caught 79 balls for 1,260 yards and eight touchdowns. Also added 1,135 kickoff return yards, 177 rushing yards, and 18 punt return yards to establish a school record for all-purpose yardage.
Thomas cashes in on a monster junior season in Lansing by taking his classic West Coast receiver package - size, hands, YAC ability - to the pros. His 4.40 40 at the Combine showed he can get down the field a little bit as well, and you know how the NFL loves big, fast wide receivers. As a junior coming out early - especially considering he spent his first collegiate season at a junior college and was a starter for only one year at Michigan State - Thomas’ game could use some refinement. While the Spartans looked for ways to get the ball into his hands Thomas isn’t overly familiar with the full complement of routes, so the learning curve may be a bit steeper at the next level.
Thomas compares favorably to Dwayne Bowe, whom the Chiefs took in the first round last year and who produced 70 catches, 995 yards and five touchdowns as a rookie. Thomas also brings his kick-return skills to the table, but he may take longer to catch on to the NFL playbook than Bowe did simply because he wasn’t asked to run all the routes at Michigan State. Physically, he’s ready for the NFL; then again, so are a lot of players who don’t make a splash right away.
Between Thomas’ solid Combine showing and concerns about Malcolm Kelly’s injured thigh, Thomas has moved to the top of some teams’ wide receiver draft board. One of those teams could be the Bills, who will be looking for a big receiver to complement Lee Evans. The Eagles have room for an impact wide receiver, and the Buccaneers and Cowboys could be looking at eventual replacements for Joey Galloway and Terrell Owens, respectively. The Titans would dearly love to add a target large enough that even Vince Young can’t miss him, and Thomas would certainly fit that bill.
Even relative fantasy newbies know better than to expect big things from rookie wide receivers, and Thomas would seem to be a poster child for the classic “wait until Year Three” strategy. At a minimum he’ll need time to get his route-running up to the pro level, which will only compound the typical rookie receiver growing pains.
Where Thomas could have an immediate impact in redraft leagues is as a return man. He doesn’t have Devin Hester wheels, but his track record suggests he’ll get opportunities on special teams; if you’re in one of the growing number of leagues that rewards return yards or where return touchdowns are added to the bottom line, Thomas is definitely a value-add. Given his skills, he’s not a bad bet to eventually contribute as a fantasy wide receiver as well.