Michael Thomas has dramatically outperformed the five receivers taken ahead of him

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It’s not quite the Brady Six, but Saints receiver Michael Thomas likely is thinking about five specific names as the ink dries on his five-year, $100 million* extension. (The asterisk will be explained in a future post.)

In 2016, five receivers were drafted before Thomas, the 47th pick in the draft. None of them have come close to doing what Thomas has done in New Orleans.

From Corey Coleman (15th overall) to Will Fuller (21st) to Josh Doctson (22nd) to Laquon Treadwell (23rd) to Sterling Sheppard (40th), all have been — relative to Thomas — not great. Sheppard has come the closest to the production that Thomas has generated, but Sheppard is still averaging 500 yards per year (1,500 total) fewer than Thomas.

Indeed, Thomas has more than 500 more career receiving yards than the four 2016 first-round receivers combined. He has 3,787; Coleman, Fuller, Doctson, and Treadwell have 3,257 among them.

Motivated in part by sliding to 47th, it’s fair to wonder whether Thomas would have been as good if he didn’t have the chip on his shoulder that comes from being drafted lower than he believes he should have been drafted. Regardless, he landed where he did, he’s done what he’s done, and now he’s getting paid huge money — more per year in new money than any receiver in NFL history.

Of course, that may not last long. A guy who slid to round five in that same draft currently plays for the Chiefs, and with Thomas setting the bar at $20 million per year, Tyreek Hill surely will try to match or beat it.

22 responses to “Michael Thomas has dramatically outperformed the five receivers taken ahead of him

  1. Michael Thomas was a stud at Ohio State, but they lined him up on one side of the field and only had him run 2 or 3 routes – in a predominantly run-oriented offense.

  2. We need to be careful with this evaluation. Yes it is an easy one to make but lets not over-look the influence playing with a Hall of Fame QB, one of the best offensive coaches in the NFL and a stable organization. These things can have a chilling effect on a person.

    Same reason why Randy Moss in Oakland and Randy Moss in New England were completely two different players. He bought in to the culture, and with Tom throwing him passes, he broke NFL records.

    Michael Thomas has become a great WR but sometimes, your environment can also bring out the greatness in you.

  3. The production of Coleman, Treadwell, Doctson, Fuller, Sheppard, and Thomas, roughly in that order, very closely correlates with the quality of the player(s) throwing them passes.

  4. It’s sort of a curse, though. IMO, they should have dealt him. It wouldn’t have been popular, but like in Oakland with Antonio Brown or other teams who are overpaying WRs based not only the market or based on how you put money where in terms of salary allocation, this will harm them badly for years until Brees retires.

    There’s no way around it. Two offensive players will be paid upwards of 40 mil per year. I wonder how many of their good players will be FAs as camp cuts either this year to account for this or in upcoming years, because they won’t be able to pay those players.

  5. john baxter says:
    July 31, 2019 at 11:05 am
    We need to be careful with this evaluation. Yes it is an easy one to make but lets not over-look the influence playing with a Hall of Fame QB, one of the best offensive coaches in the NFL and a stable organization. These things can have a chilling effect on a person.

    Same reason why Randy Moss in Oakland and Randy Moss in New England were completely two different players. He bought in to the culture, and with Tom throwing him passes, he broke NFL records.

    Michael Thomas has become a great WR but sometimes, your environment can also bring out the greatness in you.

    14 0 Rate This

    ————————-

    Right.

    And when Moss was whining about a new deal into a Lockout past 30, BB wisely unloaded him and re-acquired Deion Branch, BB allwoed Brady to get his head out his butt and go on to an MVP season, because prior to that Week 4/Week 5 trade,Brady was staring Moss down for stats and a new contract. BB sniffed it out and dealt him, selling high AFTER buying low. Loomis has just bought REALLY high here.

    Be careful what you wish for here….With this contract comes with the expectation of production and a lot of targets. Smart teams will know this and a team like NE would completely take him out of a game for the cost of about 1.25 million per game he plays in every week.

    Just like how they bracketed Tyreek Hill on every down, they’d do it here with Thomas. Then what?

    Kamara…Ok…That’s 2 weapons teams have to worry about there in terms of man matchups.

    A wiser move would have been to trade him and save that cap space for numerous other WRs or $$ allocated at their other weaker positions.

    Loomis has been horrible drafting for years, minus 2017, so his leverage was removed. The only out would have been to deal him for a 1st rd pick and let another team make the mistake.

  6. doe22us says:
    July 31, 2019 at 10:57 am
    Fuller is good but always injured.. Rest are certified bum

    ———————-

    Shepard has done exactly what he was drafted to do. Be a slot receiver and secondary receiver. He’s excelled at it. Watch a Giants’ game before you lump him in with the rest.

    What would Thomas have done in NY? Probably been pretty good if not great but his numbers would be nowhere the same.

    Thomas was hard to project because of his non use at OSU. I thought he was in play right after Shepard was drafted and was a bit surprised he got into the 3rd round. But projections are hard at this position. Shepard is exactly who he was projected to be. Thomas was not.

  7. Anyone who thinks Michael Thomas has been better than the guys drafted ahead of him because of the quarterbacks they play with doesn’t know anything about evaluating wide receivers. I’m sure it helps to have Drew Brees, but Drew Brees isn’t going to turn Laquon Treadwell into Michael Thomas.

  8. I never understood why they talking heads draft analysts gave him a second round grade behind all those other guys. Meyer’s pathetic offense really hurt his draft status. It’s amazing to see him now in the NFL. He’s crazy good. Getting drafted by the Saints (with Brees) was probably the best place he could go.

    What about those guys drafted ahead of him (minus Shephard–the only one to do anything)?

    Fuller – 107 career catches
    Coleman – 61
    Doctson – 81
    Treadwell – 56

    Last season alone Thomas had 125 catches. Those four guys I mentioned above? 305 career catches combined. Thomas has 321.

    I’d have to say getting Thomas in the second round was quite a steal.

  9. granadafan says:
    July 31, 2019 at 11:11 am
    Urban Meyer certainly can produce a lot of NFL talent except for at QB.

    Alex Smith has had a pretty solid career.

  10. johnodocks says:
    July 31, 2019 at 11:35 am
    Remember when Drew Brees turned 7th rounder Marques Colston into a pro bowler?
    —————
    Surprisingly, Colston never made a pro bowl roster.

  11. Rob Brzezinski is a Magician says:
    July 31, 2019 at 11:47 am
    Anyone who thinks Michael Thomas has been better than the guys drafted ahead of him because of the quarterbacks they play with doesn’t know anything about evaluating wide receivers. I’m sure it helps to have Drew Brees, but Drew Brees isn’t going to turn Laquon Treadwell into Michael Thomas.
    Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

    ………which is another way of saying Cousins is a joke compared to elite (and uninjured) quarterbacks.

  12. stellarperformance:
    ………which is another way of saying Cousins is a joke compared to elite (and uninjured) quarterbacks.
    ——————————-
    Well, Cousins threw for 4298 yards with 30 touchdowns 70.1 comp % – – I think any team would love that.
    (Maybe he was busy throwing to other receivers, tight ends, RB’s).
    Adam Thielen 113 receptions 1373 yards 9 TD’s
    Stefon Diggs 102 receptions 1021 yards 9 TD’s
    etc etc …

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