One thing Patriots fans always complain about is the lack of size at wide receiver, and the reason they want one so bad is because they believe it will help Tom Brady. Brandon LaFell was a decent big-bodied receiver in 2014 and it appeared they had found someone to fit that role, but he was terrible last year and was cut earlier this offseason. New England has added two wide receivers in free agency, Chris Hogan and Nate Washington, but if they are looking for a legitimate tall wideout, Ohio State's Michael Thomas could be a strong candidate to be drafted.
Check out Thomas's Draft preview provided by Blake Thomas of BuckeyeSports.com:
Thomas, 21, stands at 6'3, 212, and he ran the 40-yard dash in 4.55 seconds, a decent time for someone his size. Thomas, who is the nephew of former NFL wide receiver Keyshawn Johnson, attended Taft High School in Woodland Hills, Los Angeles. Thomas wasn't as highly recruited as his uncle, but he was still a four star recruit that dominated his senior year in high school, hauling in 86 catches for 1,656 yards and 21 touchdowns. Just like any other kid who grows up playing football in Los Angeles, Thomas had his eyes set on USC and UCLA, but neither school was interested. Considering his connection to Johnson, it's a surprise USC didn't take a chance on him.
Thomas was recruited by Boise State, Nebraska, Notre Dame, Oklahoma State, and Ohio State. He chose the Buckeyes and it turned out to be a great move for him. Thomas didn't have a typical career at Ohio State, playing in all 11 games as a freshman before being redshirted as a sophomore. The Buckeyes had great depth and wanted to get another year out of Thomas, so it made sense for the team. His junior year he wasn't a starter to begin the season, but after just one game he was inserted into the starting lineup, and he remained there for the rest of his career.
Thomas hauled in 54 catches for 799 yards and nine touchdowns. His 14.8 yards per reception is also impressive and shows he has the talent to get down the field and make plays. The best part about Thomas's season was his ability to step up and make clutch plays in big games, typically against excellent teams like Alabama when he had seven catches for 66 yards and a beautiful toe-tap touchdown. Thomas quickly developed a reputation as a big-game player and that will definitely help his stock in the draft.
2015 was a carbon copy for Thomas, at least statistically. He finished with 56 catches, 789 yards, nine touchdowns, and averaged 13.9 yards per catch. Those numbers are the definition of consistency, and it's important to remember how many weapons the Buckeyes have to choose from. Thomas, who made the All-Big Ten Third Team, is one of the top three weapons from that offense, and his raw ability should allow him to shine in the NFL, assuming he gets coached right. He needs to work on his route running, playing through contact, and not falling apart when he's dealing with an effective press corner.
New England has missed on many wide receivers in the past, be it to injury or just flat out busts (more of the latter) so they are probably leery about going back to that well, but you can't make the shot if you don't take it, and eventually one is going to go in. Besides Julian Edelman, who was never expected to become what he's become, Belichick has had a rough percentage on drafting wide receivers. Maybe Michael Thomas will be that made shot Belichick has been searching for since he drafted Deion Branch.
Statistics Provided By OhioStateBuckeyes.com
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