One of the biggest needs of the Minnesota Vikings this offseason is to find a big-bodied, No. 1-caliber wide receiver. The problem is that this draft does not seem to contain a can’t-miss type of receiver that the past two drafts have had, so it makes sense that teams in need want to take their time and give their due diligence.
One of the players that the Vikings met with at the NFL Scouting Combine was Ohio State receiver Michael Thomas. Thomas is a player whose measurements indicate No. 1 receiver material. He measured in at 6-foot-3, 212 pounds with a 32 1/8-inch arm length and 10½-inch hands.
He also has average speed, which he showed by running a 4.57 40-yard dash. That is not elite speed by any means, but it is enough to keep defensive backs honest and when paired with his size it can be even more dangerous.
Another thing that the Ohio State product has to offer teams is his strength. He was able to do the 18 reps of 225 pounds on the bench press at the combine, more than any other wide receiver. Strength is always an important attribute for a receiver to possess, especially at the professional level, because he will be forced to go up against press coverage throughout his career and it is usually easier for a stronger receiver to get free.
However, Thomas will need to learn how to use his strength more, as one of the biggest knocks against him is he is too passive and often takes too long trying to shake off a defender pressing him, rather than to just use his strength and size to run past him.
Another thing that Thomas needs to still work on is his explosiveness. Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer said he likes to use the vertical jump as a tool when evaluating players because it is a good way to measure their explosiveness. Thomas struggled with his vertical jump at the combine, recording a 35-inch vertical, which tied him for 15th among receivers.
Thomas also had a disappointing attempt at the broad jump, jumping 126 inches, which put him ninth among receivers.
Both of those stats show that while Thomas is a very powerful athlete, he still needs to work on his explosiveness.
One drill where Thomas performed really well, though, was the 20-yard shuttle. It is a test that is used to measure lateral quickness and the ability to maintain speed through a transition. He completed the drill in 4.13 seconds, which was tied for fourth among receivers.
The combine proved that Thomas is what everyone saw on his tape coming out of college. He is a player with an ideal frame that still has a lot of work to do in order to perfect his game. He has the chance to be a great receiver in the NFL, but he also has the chance to be a bust.
If the Vikings end up drafting him in the first round it could very well make fans uneasy because the team already has used a first-round pick on a wide receiver, Cordarrelle Patterson, that hasn’t worked out. The difference is that Thomas is considered a strong route-runner, while Patterson has the explosiveness but isn’t a technician in route-running.