New Orleans Saints: Five awards for 2016, including MVP
By Ty Anania
Michael Thomas: Rookie of the Year
We’re starting off easy, with the most obvious pick of the bunch.
Michael Thomas is so deserving of Rookie of the Year, it’s almost ridiculous. It’s hard to remember a better rookie season, for any Saints player. The popular comparison is Marques
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The popular comparison is Marques Colston, and no surprise why. Both receivers have similar body-types and had similarly explosive rookie seasons in New Orleans. But when you look at the stats, you’ll see that Michael Thomas was arguably a better rookie receiver than Colston was.
Now, that’s not to say that Thomas will necessarily have a better career than Colston. You can’t predict the future. But from the eye test, I’d say Thomas has a shot at being the best receiver ever to play with Drew Brees.
Colston had a knack for finding the soft spots in zone coverage, and for making difficult, high, and contested catches over the middle of the field. He developed an outstanding chemistry with Drew Brees and will be forever remembered for his time here.
But Thomas just does so many things well.
He’s still developing into the zone threat that Colston was. But I’d argue that he’s already more challenging to defend in man coverage than Colston was in his prime. He has the hands to make more difficult catches than Colston, and has an ability to shed tacklers and run after the catch that few in the league have.
Sheldon Rankins had a very solid year. And by all accounts he’ll be a staple of this defense for years to come. But even if Rankins had played in all 16 games, I don’t see much chance that he’d overtake Thomas as the Saints’ Rookie of the Year. Neither with Vonn Bell, who struggled through most of the season. In Bell’s defense, it’s much harder to be a rookie safety than a rookie receiver. But out of the two Ohio State alums, it’s clear as day who the better prospect is at this point.