Rookie Profile – Mike Thomas, Southern Mississippi

Ryan McDowell

Depending on which fantasy football analysts you follow and trust, you might be asking yourself the question that many of us are as the NFL Draft nears…which Mike Thomas is the “good” Mike Thomas? While they share a name, the two soon-to-be rookie wide receivers play a different game. Today, I’ll focus on the version who became a trendy sleeper target very early on in the off-season draft process, only to see his dynasty value shot down after he was not invited to February’s NFL Combine. Of course, I’m referring to Mike Thomas, the former Southern Miss wideout rather than his Ohio State counterpart.

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As dynasty owners, we are often not happy with the top tier of incoming rookies and we start digging early, looking to uncover the next unheralded young player that we could steal in the late second round of rookie drafts who could become a cornerstone of of weekly fantasy lineups. In reality, these are few and far between, but we have to try, right? As soon as the college season wrapped up, I began reading articles and conversations about the “other” Mike Thomas and I was intrigued. Based on his measurable and production, Thomas looked like an ideal player to take a shot on in the late second or early third round of rookie drafts. The only problem is all of that conversation from many who follow the pre-draft process so closely moved Thomas’ value closer and closer to the first round. By February, he was sitting in the 2.04 spot of our rookie ADP. This suddenly felt pretty costly and that feeling became even more clear later in the month when the list of players who would take part in the all-important NFL Combine was released. Don’t get me wrong, plenty of top players over the years have opted to sit out of combine workouts in anticipation of blowing up their pro day later in the off-season, but that was not the case here. Thomas was simply not invited to participate. While a quick Google search reveals some past players who were combine snubs only to become successful NFL players, the list is not long. For many, this simple act was enough to move Thomas way down their draft board. Others passed it off a mistake. Maybe the NFL was confused by the multiple Mike Thomas’, just as some fantasy players have been. Regardless of the reason, it was not a good sign for Thomas.

The good news is we did get some workout numbers after Thomas participated in the Southern Miss pro day on March 24. Thanks to PlayerProfiler.com for the information below.

thomas_profile

When I look at a receiver outside of the Power Five conferences, I want to see some numbers that jump out to me and while none of Thomas’ data is eye-popping, it’s almost all above average in comparison to other wide receivers. I do have some concerns with him being compared to Eagles’ receiver Nelson Agholor, a player I didn’t like much coming out a school a season ago and one who failed to establish himself during his rookie season. The combination of Thomas’ nearly 20 yards per reception and his respectable 4.45 40 time tells me he can be a downfield asset for an NFL team. Let’s look at a clip and see if that shows up on tape.

http://draftbreakdown.com/video/mike-thomas-vs-washington-2015/

I saw a few things I liked in Thomas’ game against the University of Washington. First of all, Thomas looked like a very willing blocker and he was also involved in the return game. Both of these can help him get on the field soon in the NFL. Next, just beyond the 1:00 mark, you’ll see that 4.45 speed on display as Thomas makes a quick grab and slips through the defense for a long score. One other thing I liked and I think NFL teams will appreciate as well, is Thomas lined up all over the field, both in the slot and out wide.

While Thomas has had a bit of a wild ride this off-season, at least in terms of his dynasty value, he’s now back to his peak value. As of our brand new April rookie ADP data, Thomas is again occupying the 2.04 spot in rookie drafts. Be sure to tune into the NFL Draft in a couple of weeks because the NFL has already given us one big clue what they think of Thomas and his future. If he falls well into day three of the draft, that will be another red flag for dynasty owners.

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ryan mcdowell