The debate over who should be the Jaguars number two receiver needs to be put to rest right now. The answer is very clear...Mike Thomas. When comparing Mike Thomas' 2009 rookie season to some other players early in their careers you find some similarities that will have you excited about what may be in store for Thomas this year. The NFL should get ready for Mike Thomas this year, it just might be his coming out party. More after the jump.
Lets look at Mike Thomas' 2009 stat line:
- 48 receptions on 62 targets = 77% catch rate (That was #1 in the NFL last year)
- 453 yards receiving, 9.4 yards per catch, 1 TD
- 3.4 receptions per game, and 32.4 yards per game
Not too bad for his first year. Now using these basic stat lines we can find 3 more players who had similar numbers early in their careers. I tried to find players that were similar in body size and mass to Mike Thomas. The first guy that jumped out at me was WR Wes Welker. Welker is 5'9, 190; not only that but Welker's 2nd year in the league (the first year he was targeted with at least 50 passes)he put up numbers similar to Thomas. Welker played for the Miami Dolphins that year.
Here is Wes Welkers' 2005 stat line:
- 29 recpetions on 52 targets = 56% catch rate (Lowest of Welker's career)
- 434 yards receiving, 15.0 yards per catch, 0 TD
- 1.8 receptions per game, and 27.1 yards per game
Yes Welker's numbers are slightly lower, but this was the first year he was used in the passing game. Some of his 2006 numbers look somewhat closer to Thomas':
- 67 receptions on 100 targets = 67% catch rate
- 687 receiving yards, 10.3 yards per catch, 1 TD
- 4.2 receptions per game, and 42.9 yards per game
So the targets for Welkers first year are very similar to Thomas' with the exception of the catch rate. Maybe it was because Gus Frerotte(52% comp)was the QB that year and many of those balls were probably uncatchable. Welker's YPC (yards per catch) in 2005 was 15.0. This number is out of character with the rest of Welker's career, aside from the 2005 season he has never averaged more than 11.0 YPC. Maybe they threw it deep to him in 05'? Either way it seems Miami figured out how to utilize him better the next season when he caught 4.2 balls a game and had around 43 yards per game. Those two stats aren't that far off from Thomas'. Anyway New England saw that this Welker kid was being grossly underutilized in the Dolphins offense and acquired him the next season. The rest is history.
So your thinking to yourself, "Mike Thomas and Wes Welker aren't that close, but there are some intriguing similarities. Show me someone else! "
Oh yeah you've heard that one before. Mike Thomas said it himself.
But Thomas is talking about Carolina Panther Steve Smith. However that Steve Smith doesn't really have a season comparable to Thomas' rookie year.
But this Steve Smith (NYG) does, his 2008 stat line:
- 57 catches on 82 targets = 70% catch rate
- 574 receiving yards, 10.1 YPC, 1 TD
- 3.6 receptions per game, and 35.9 yards per game
Wow! Those numbers look very comparable to Mike Thomas' 2009 campaign, the only difference....That was Steve Smith's second season. Oddly enough he only started 4 games that year; Same as Mike in 09'. Now if that doesn't get you excited about Mike Thomas this year I'm not sure what will, considering in Smith's 3rd season(2009) he caught 107 balls for 1220 yards. I think you can attribute the huge increase in Smith's receptions due to the suspension of Plaxico Buress last season and the disappearance of Domenik Hixon. I don't think Mike Thomas will be looking at that kind of production this year, but it doesn't hurt to dream.
So you want to see someone who did what Mike Thomas did in his rookie season? Look no further than just down the road to Miami in 2008. 2008 was Davone Bess' rookie season and like Mike Thomas he came on real strong at the end of his rookie year. To the stats!
Davone Bess' 2008 stat line:
- 54 catches on 75 targets = 72% catch rate
- 554 receiving yards, 10.3 YPC, 1 TD
- 3.4 receptions per game, and 34.6 yards per game
Now you might not be high on Davone Bess, but this kid is the real deal. Last season he caught 68% of his 114 targets for 76 receptions and 756 yards and 2 TD's. Thats not too bad when you consider he had a first year QB throwing to him in Chad Henne. Bess is also of similar stature to Thomas at 5'10, 190 pounds. Also like Thomas he handled 35 punt/kick returns his rookie season (Thomas 40 returns). So there are some similar qualities.
So beside having the highest catch rate among WR's with 50 targets last year (77%) Mike Thomas was also in the Top 10 of another NFL category. Yards per Touch:
|1.||Ted Ginn Jr. · MIA||17.9|
|2.||Percy Harvin* · MIN||17.8|
|3.||DeSean Jackson* · PHI||16.8|
|4.||Danny Amendola · STL||16.1|
|5.||Andre Johnson*+ · HOU||15.3|
|6.||Josh Cribbs*+ · CLE||14.9|
|7.||Mike Thomas · JAX||13.0|
|8.||Reggie Wayne* · IND||12.6|
|9.||Steve Smith* · NYG||11.4|
|10.||Wes Welker*+ · NWE||11.3|
Lots of return men on this list , but also a couple guys we looked at above when comparing them to Mike Thomas. With the Jaguars drafting Deji Karim and Scotty Mcgee, I think we will see Mike Thomas' return role reduced somewhat but not completely wiped out. The good thing is it might give him more time to focus on his receiving game, which could lead to big numbers this year.
I'm gonna confidently say that Mike Thomas playing 16 games has around: 73 catches, 756 receiving yards, and 5 TD's.
With his Average Draft Position around 215 he's not too bad for a late round fantasy football pick or a guy to snag off the waiver wire if he starts heating up early this season.
Let's just hope Mike Thomas' emergence will push the Jaguars to their first division title since 1999 because individual numbers aren't that important unless you get the wins.