Wide receiver was the most common position in mock drafts when it comes to projections on who the Minnesota Vikings will take at No. 23 overall in this year’s draft. When reviewing 12 national mock drafts, seven of the experts had them taking a receiver. Josh Doctson of TCU received three votes, Laquon Treadwell of Ole Miss received two and then there were two that received one vote each. One of those receivers was Ohio State’s Michael Thomas.
A majority of the mock drafts do not have a lot of receivers off the board when the Vikings pick, but in the Scout.com mock, Treadwell and Baylor’s Corey Coleman are already off the board when pick No. 23 pick rolls around.
Scout’s mock draft then has the Vikings taking the 6-foot-3, 210-pound Thomas, even with Doctson still available.
Thomas can be a tricky pick because he never put up the huge numbers that some of the other receivers in this draft produced. In 2015, he recorded 56 receptions for 781 yards and nine touchdown, averaging 13.9 yards per reception. But his lack of production could be because of the offensive system he was playing in, and the fact that Ohio State never seemed to be able to settle on a quarterback.
It is clearly not his stats that are going to get him drafted in the first round, but instead his measurements and potential. He has great size and would be bigger than any receiver the Vikings have on their current roster. He also possesses good speed and quickness, which he was often able to use to create enough separation to give him a comfortable cushion.
He also has great hands and appears comfortable with catching the ball away from his body. That will help when competing with a defender for the ball, especially in the red zone, because he can use his big body to block out the defender and then use his hands to secure the ball away from his body.
There are some negatives to his game, though. Thomas is by no means a polished route runner, according to analysts, which was not helped by the fact he was usually asked to run short routes or screens in college. He will also struggle when facing press coverage as he spends too much time at the line of scrimmage trying to juke or fake out the defender instead of just using his speed and size to get past them.
He will need to be more aggressive when going up to get balls, especially ones that are off target. The Vikings coaching staff would also need him to work on his downfield blocking in the running game, as he often seemed to shy away from it unless asked to specifically go after a defender.
There are a lot of questions surrounding Thomas and his draft stock will likely sway greatly depending on how he performs at the NFL Combine and his pro day. He has a lot of upside and an ideal size for the position. The problem is that he was not asked in college to do a lot of things that NFL receivers are asked to do.
There are a lot of signs pointing in the direction of him being a great receiver, but also signs pointing in the direction of him being a bust. After taking a gamble on Cordarrelle Patterson a few years ago, the question is whether the Vikings will want to take that kind of risk again. Thomas’ performance between now and April 28 could determine whether he is a first-round pick or not.