Thomas’ Previous Production
There is a reason Thomas was going in the top five in most fantasy drafts; his previous production is off the charts. Despite being a second-round pick, the Ohio State product wasted no time making a noticeable impact.
Despite missing a game and not being a huge part of the offense early, he still finished with 1137 receiving yards and 9.4 yards/target. It is easy to forget, but he is a major reason why Brandin Cooks eventually was traded by the Saints; the speedy receiver was frustrated by his lack of targets, which stemmed from Thomas supplanting him as Brees’ preferred target.
From there, Thomas continued to blossom.
More from Who Dat Dish
- Saints weapon Taysom Hill might have another new role in 2022
- Are the Saints playoff contenders or pretenders in 2022?
- 3 takeaways from Saints unofficial depth chart ahead of preseason opener
- Saints 2022 Training Camp: Top 5 takeaways from Day 13
- 3 things to know about new Saints QB K.J. Costello
He totaled 1245 receiving yards in 2017 and then developed into a superstar. In both 2018 and 2019, he was named to the All-Pro team and led the league in receptions, and a case can be made for his 2019 stat line as being one of the best for a wide receiver ever.
Not only did he break the single-season receptions record, but he also averaged 107.8 yards per game, posted an elite 80.5% catch rate, and was a consistent chain mover with 91 first downs. Remember, Brees missed five games that season.
Ironically, Thomas never played a major role at Ohio State; he never had more than 800 yards in a season there. However, he certainly isn’t the only receiver from Ohio State to not be properly utilized — Terry McLaurin has been a star for the Washington Football Team but didn’t make much of an impact in college.
This further demonstrates that surface-level college production can not be trusted when projecting a player to the pros, and also shows a way to find undervalued players. Due to his lack of production in college and his limited route tree, many didn’t believe Thomas had “upside”.
However, he had a much higher range of outcomes given the “unknown” with him, and he was able to maximize on his abilities in an organization that has done a tremendous job developing wide receivers.