Much attention has been paid to the weaknesses throughout the Buffalo Bills’ defense during the 2015 NFL season, but heading into the 2016 offseason the team will need to make upgrades along the offense as well. Under Greg Roman, wide receiver Sammy Watkins has emerged as a game-changer at the wide receiver position, but injuries suffered to Percy Harvin, Marquise Goodwin and Robert Woods have exposed the lack of depth and sure talent the Bills have on their depth chart. Today, we’ll take a look at Ohio State Buckeyes WR Michael Thomas.
The nephew of Keyshawn Johnson, Michael Thomas has good size at 6’3” and 210 pounds and displays solid play speed with the size and strength to win on 50-50 balls outside the numbers. He isn’t a burner that will take the top off of a defense, but he can create some separation with double moves and subtle fakes that allow him to distance himself from opposing cornerbacks.
As a true freshman, Thomas played in 11 games, recording three catches for 22 yards, but Urban Meyer decided to redshirt him for his sophomore season due to his inability to learn the offense and understand the route tree.
In the following two seasons, Michael Thomas recorded 110 receptions for 1,580 yards and 18 touchdowns.
Previous Prospect Breakdowns
Michael Thomas’ Route Running Ability
As previously stated, Michael Thomas isn’t going to strike fear in opposing defenses with his speed, but he shows the ability to win on underneath or intermediate in-breaking routes with head fakes before crossing the cornerback’s face.
In the following play, Thomas uses his size and strength to gain inside leverage against the defensive back before cutting inside and making the catch.
Thomas does a good job of selling his routes, whether on a stop-and-go, or a crossing route. In the following clip, he embarrasses the opposing corner by getting vertical before stutter-stepping to sell the comeback, causing the cornerback to take a false step, before accelerating down the field and making a wide open touchdown grab.
He runs the same route against Rutgers and the cornerback is forced to grab him. Thomas still gets downfield but the ball is overthrown in the endzone.
Michael Thomas’ Yards-After-Catch Ability
Michael Thomas doesn’t have the explosiveness of a Corey Coleman or Josh Doctson, but he has the elusiveness to make a man miss and the long strides to cover a lot of ground.
In the following play against Rutgers, Thomas runs a quick out route before stiff-arming the cornerback to the ground and takes it 40-yards to the house for a touchdown.
He has the strength to break free from arm tackles, as displayed in the next play against Michigan State. Thomas runs a quick slant and makes the catch, before breaking the tackle attempt by the Spartans cornerback and runs 70-yards for a score.
Potential Fit With Buffalo Bills
Michael Thomas is a big-bodied receiver that the Buffalo Bills’ offense has lacked for years. He’s an ideal No. 2 option that knows how to use his size to box out defenders and has deceptive speed to break away from defenders. The questions concerning his ability to learn an offense are troubling, but he has the potential to develop into a productive boundary receiver that would be a nice complement to Sammy Watkins.
Player Comparison: Brandon Marshall