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2016 NFL Draft Prospect: Michael Thomas, WR, Ohio State

On New Year’s Day, get some hair of the dog, nurse your hangover and check out the Fiesta Bowl featuring the Ohio State Buckeyes and the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. Several NFL prospects will grace the field but one of the top prospects will be Ohio State’s Michael Thomas. Here is a look at his draft profile.

Prospect Background

Michael Thomas is a redshirt junior wide receiver at Ohio State. He checks in as the fifth ranked WR on the most recent update of the RotoViz Scouting Index after ranking third in the debut of the index. Thomas has protypical WR size as he’s listed at 6 – 3, 210 pounds. Thomas had a somewhat unique trip to leading all Ohio State WRs in receiving yards in back-to-back seasons. After high school, Thomas attended a military academy for a post graduate year before going Ohio State in 2012 as a true freshman. In his freshman season he was only able to produce three receptions for 22 yards. He then redshirted in 2013 and has since emerged as Ohio States top receiving target in consecutive seasons. Even though he took a post graduate year after high school and redshirted a season at Ohio State, he still won’t turn 22 until this August.

Production

Let’s take a quick look at the raw and market share numbers for Thomas.

Trg MSTrg Rec Yds MSYds TD MSTD

2014

78

19.1

54

799

21.6

9

21.4

2015

74

26.8

49

709

31.6

8

44.4

The first thing that pops out is that the raw numbers are fairly consistent across both seasons. The market share numbers are improved in 2015 due to a decrease in Ohio State’s passing volume. Thomas was Ohio State’s most heavily targeted WR despite the presence of Devin Smith in 2014, a second round pick of the New York Jets. Thomas saw 19.1 percent of the targets that year and was able to produce 21.5 percent of Ohio State’s passing offense. That’s not too shabby for sharing the field with an eventual second round pick. Although his raw numbers actually dipped across the board from 2014 to 2105, Thomas’ market share numbers all took a big step forward. Without Smith on the field, opposing defense knew the ball would be going to Thomas and he was still able to produce a 0.38 DR.

In 2014, Shawn Seigele detailed how Breakout Age is the Skeleton Key to WR evaluation. He defined the breakout season as the first in which a WR achieved a 0.3 DR and obviously, the younger the better. The article shows first round picks with an age 21 breakout tend to “miss.” This doesn’t doom Michael Thomas as a prospect, it just means that his odds as a “hit” are a little bit longer. The combine numbers will shed some light on just how long those odds will be.

Takeaway

Thomas still has yet to declare for the 2016 NFL Draft, but many are expecting him to do so. CBSSports.com has Thomas projected to be drafted in the first or second round. If/when he does declare I fully expect him to be taken in the top 50 picks. For fantasy purposes, Thomas isn’t a “can’t miss, must have” prospect, meaning his landing spot will be especially crucial to his NFL success.1 However, he will be one of the top four or five WRs taken in the real draft and in your dynasty rookie drafts and rightfully so.

  1. Unlike a prospect like Amari Cooper, for example, who will succeed no matter where he was drafted.  (back)

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