Dynasty Fantasy Football Rookie Profile: Brian Thomas, WR LSU

Brandon Haye

Wide receiver is seen as the top position in this upcoming NFL Draft. There is a top three but there is discussion about who is next after Marvin Harrison Jr, Malik Nabers, and Rome Odunze. In my opinion, the next best receiver is Brian Thomas, Nabers’ teammate out of LSU.

He ran fast at the combine, and you could see that speed on tape. He only had one big year of production but that was while sharing the spotlight with Nabers. Let’s look at this profile.

The Stats

Thomas was a top 70 player coming out of Louisiana in 2021 and decided to commit to LSU over other SEC powerhouses Alabama and Auburn. He had minimal production in his first two years but blew up in year three.

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Chart courtesy of Sports Reference CFB.

Before 2023, Thomas had not gone over 400 receiving yards. In 2023 he was able to double his career production in yards and touchdowns. His average of over 17 yards per catch showed what a big playmaker he was for LSU.

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Chart courtesy of Sports Reference CFB.

Thomas would have been the leading receiver on many other teams but did have over 1,000 yards and 17 touchdowns. The even more impressive stat for Thomas was that 12 of his 17 touchdowns came on passes 20 or more yards down the field.

The Film

Thomas had a breakout year in 2023 and I think his improvement from 2022 also has to do with quarterback Jayden Daniels developing more as a passer to get him the ball. Thomas showed great ability on deep balls, with a 68% catch rate on passes 20 or more yards down the field. He is great at tracking the ball and adjusting to the ball while it is in the air.

He has the speed to get behind the defense but that is only possible because he can beat press coverage. He has a quick first step and uses hesitation or a stutter step to stack defenders.

Thomas is not going to be big in evading defenders on short passes, as he only had 30 missed tackles forced in three years. He will need to develop more variety in his routes and improve his concentration.

The Measurables

Thomas has the ideal size to be an alpha receiver and the speed he ran in the combine shows he could fit in as a number one receiver for a team.

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Chart courtesy of NFL.

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Courtesy of RAS.

You can see the potential of Thomas on his tape in 2023 and his RAS score shows that with Great or Elite in all categories. His score is just below that of Rome Odunze who is thought to be a lock as a top-15 pick in this upcoming draft.

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Courtesy of RAS.

Dynasty Value

Brian Thomas has been steadily moving up rankings since mid-January. He now is plateauing to the 15-20 pick range. That most likely puts him as WR4 or WR5 of this 2024 NFL Draft Class.

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Courtesy of Mock Draft Database.

In our latest rookie ADP for April, he is going as the fourth receiver and fifth overall. I think that is fair, but I personally would take him over Brock Bowers because of the ceiling that Thomas has. He still may go fifth overall though because I would take Caleb Williams over Thomas because of how good I think Williams could be.

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Courtesy of DLF’s Rookie ADP.

Conclusion

Thomas is exactly what the NFL is looking for in a top receiver for the team. Some will say that he was not the best receiver on his own team. But I would argue LSU had two number one receivers with both Thomas and Nabers’ production. There are things that Thomas can improve on especially in route running but the potential is just too much for NFL teams to pass on him.

brandon haye