Top Saints to watch at training camp: No. 3, Michael Thomas

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Jun 2, 2016; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Saints wide receiver Michael Thomas (13) during organized team activities at the New Orleans Saints Indoor Training Facility. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 2, 2016; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Saints wide receiver Michael Thomas (13) during organized team activities at the New Orleans Saints Indoor Training Facility. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports /
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We’re inside the Top 3 of the New Orleans Saints players to watch over the course of training camp, and today’s focus is on rookie wide receiver Michael Thomas.

Head coach Sean Payton was no fool using the team’s 47th overall pick in the 2nd Round to nab the talented Ohio State wide out. The Saints gained a new toy for Drew Brees to continue to make their offensive attack potent, and Thomas will do just that. The 6-foot-3, 212-pound receiver is the nephew of former Super Bowl Champion and ex-ESPN analyst Keyshawn Johnson, and Johnson has also said that Thomas is a bigger, faster Marques Colston.

When you stop to think about what Colston did in his career with the Saints, that’s a pretty scary thought. In a nutshell, the buzz is there for Thomas. However, is it real? The short answer is yes, but how would it look? For starters, Thomas has received praise for his exceptional route-running, which has made more than a few defenders get caught flat-footed. The best possible illustration I could use is the stutter step route on former Virginia Tech cornerback Kendall Fuller, one of college football’s top corners last season.

This Vine is a bit funnier, which shows Thomas using his Sub-Zero Mortal Kombat approach.

Thomas also has good ball skills, which is naturally something a good receiver must own. He also sports length and separation, which I can’t emphasize enough how important that is to Drew Brees. The only criticism I have for Thomas’ game is the run-blocking, but I have the utmost confidence that wide receivers coach John Morton can help there.

Michael Thomas has already impressed many, but most importantly Payton and Brees. Following one of the practices in June, Brees said that Thomas was not making the same mistakes as he did from the first day, and was progressing well. “After practice ends, we are getting a lot of extra reps together, where it is just us two, focusing in on a certain concept or split or footwork or look,” Brees told the media.

As cliché as it sounds, it’s that very type of work ethic that separates the men from the boys in the NFL. The fact that Thomas takes his role very seriously further speaks to the big plans the Saints have for him. Almost instantly, Thomas is among the top three conversation for the Saints wide receiving corps.

“Once he picks it up, he gets it,” said Brees. That’s the type of encouragement you aim to hear about with a player, and should continue to follow Thomas all the way through training camp to potentially become the next big thing from the New Orleans Saints.

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