In the conference playoffs, no tight end was better than Denver’s Julius Thomas.
However, in the Super Bowl, he faces a Seattle defense capable of blanketing the game’s best tight ends.
Through two postseason games, Thomas ranks second on the Broncos in catches (14), receiving yards (161) and targets (18) behind wideout Demaryius Thomas.
Possessing very good speed, the 6-foot-5, 225-pound Julius Thomas can be deployed like a wide receiver, which can create difficulties for opposing defenses.
Thomas was the star of the longest play in the Broncos’ AFC title-game win vs. New England. With Denver facing a 2nd-and-10 at its 25-yard-line with a 23-10 lead in the fourth quarter, Thomas split out wide left, drawing linebacker Jamie Collins in coverage. Collins pressed Thomas at the line, but the Broncos’ tight end simply ran by him.
Now, the Patriots had a problem. Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning hit Thomas in stride, and the Broncos had a 37-yard gain.
It will be interesting to see how the Broncos utilize Thomas in Super Bowl XLVIII. In the Seahawks’ two postseason wins, opposing tight ends have caught a combined five passes for 60 yards in 13 targets, with neither the Saints’ Jimmy Graham (one catch, eight yards) nor the 49ers’ Vernon Davis (two catches, 16 yards) having much impact.
Thomas has been targeted at least five times in each of the last eight games. There’s no doubting he’s a key part of the offense, and with two weeks to prepare, Denver will try to find some ways to get the matchups it wants with Thomas. Then, it comes down to execution against one of the NFL’s very best defenses.