As the 22nd overall pick in last year’s NFL draft, Broncos receiver Demaryius Thomas was a major disappointment, catching just 22 passes for 283 yards in his rookie year.
And so far this year Thomas has done even less.
Thomas has had injuries to his foot, ankle, Achilles tendon, hand and head, and he hasn’t even been able to get into a game yet this season. Thomas knows people are already calling him the B-word, and he says he’s been concerned that the Broncos might release him.
“I’ve been stressing, really, feeling that frustration, that I could have been cut,” Thomas told the Denver Post. “I was worried about that, actually. I don’t want to be that guy they say that’s injury prone. I’ve already had three injuries since I’ve been in the league that set me back. I don’t want to get here and be that bust. I told my mother this and I told my family this. I told them I was going to be the guy who had success. I just want to stick to what I say.”
The Broncos hope Thomas can finally produce, which is one of the reasons they traded starting receiver Brandon Lloyd. Thomas thinks he can repay that confidence by becoming the team’s No. 1 receiver.
“I still want to be that guy,” Thomas said. “I think I’m ready to be that guy. I’ve been saying this, but this is the healthiest I’ve been, right now, since I’ve been in the league.”
Broncos coach John Fox says he sees Thomas’s potential. But Fox also pointed out that he’s not the one who drafted Thomas.
“He has size, speed, strength, a lot of the things you look for,” Fox said. “That’s probably why he was selected as high as he was, and we’re looking forward to getting him back.”
Fox’s phrasing — “that’s probably why he was selected as high as he was” — is interesting. It suggests that Fox isn’t sure that Thomas was really worth a first-round draft pick, but now that Fox has Thomas on his team, he feels like he has little choice but to give Thomas a shot.
The same could be said for the Broncos’ other first-round draft pick last year, Tim Tebow. Maybe Tebow-to-Thomas will become the Broncos’ pass-catch combination for years to come, and the Josh McDaniels era won’t look so bad in hindsight.
Or maybe Fox will end up cursing the day he inherited a couple of first-round busts.