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NFL Draft Profile – WR Brian Thomas Jr.

By Doug Orth | 4/19/24 |

Brian Thomas Jr.


College: LSU
Height/Weight: 6' 3"/209
Hands: 9 3/4"
Age: 21 (at the time of the 2024 season opener)

Important NFL Combine Numbers

40-Yard Dash: 4.33
Vertical Jump: 38.5’’
Broad Jump: 10’ 6’’
20-Yard Shuttle: N/A
3-Cone: N/A

College Production (Stats)

High-end NFL Player Comp(s): A more athletic and dynamic Tee Higgins

Low-end NFL Player Comp(s): Christian Watson

Best Scheme Fit: While he should probably be a field-stretching Z (flanker) to begin his career, he has the size and ability to be a capable X (split end) as he becomes more nuanced as a route-runner.

Best Team Fit(s): Bills, Chargers, Cardinals, Colts, Chiefs, Steelers, Saints, Giants, Patriots

Non-bolded times - Good examples of attribute
Bolded times - Average/poor examples of attribute

Position-Specific Attributes and Grades
Attribute Att Grade Scale Examples
Ball Tracking 9.5 10.0

4:42, 5:22, 5:30, 6:28, 7:08, 10:43, 11:55, 14:48

4:00, 10:59

Contested Catch/Body Control 9.0 10.0

1:53, 5:22, 5:30, 6:28, 8:05, 10:43, 13:13


Hands 8.5 10.0

5:22, 8:05, 8:23, 10:43, 13:13, 14:48

0:28, 7:02, 14:01

Release 8.0 10.0

2:28, 4:00, 4:18, 5:30, 11:15


Route-Running 8.5 10.0

5:30, 8:05, 8:23, 10:16, 11:07, 11:15

3:41, 3:48, 10:59, 14:17

Run After Catch 7.5 10.0

1:06, 4:42, 12:37, 13:11, 14:39

3:12, 6:54, 7:38, 12:20

Physicality/Competitiveness 7.0 8.0

0:09, 3:25, 6:28, 12:37, 14:39, 15:05

Separation 5.5 6.0

2:28, 7:08, 8:05, 11:15, 11:55, 14:48


Speed 4.0 4.0

1:06, 4:18, 7:08, 8:23, 11:15, 11:55, 14:48

Blocking 1.5 2.0



Film Grade 69.0 80.0

Pre-Draft Fantasy Prospect Grade* (out of 50): 40.5

* - How well does his skill set carry over to the fantasy game? For receivers, a player needs to be a realistic threat for 70 catches and 1,000 receiving yards at some point early in their career to be a candidate for a perfect grade. Positional scarcity at the pro level is also a part of the equation.


  • Size/speed demon who eats up cushion quickly and can get behind coverage seemingly at will; accentuates this trait by stacking his defender time after time.

  • Tape is littered with big play after big play; tracks the ball as well as any prospect and routinely wins at the catch point.

  • Untapped potential in the short and intermediate passing game; flashes the ability to sink his hips and change direction and is unafraid to run over the middle of the field.

  • Underrated fluidity for a bigger receiver; showed significant growth in his technique and footwork in 2023.

  • A 78.2 percent catch rate and 6.8 percent drop rate - especially given the nature of how often he was used down the field - in his only season as a full-time starter is borderline incredible.


  • Will need some time to expand his route tree after almost two-thirds of the routes he ran in 2023 were one of the following: go, curl or slant.

  • Perhaps a bit too reliant on his incredible athleticism to get open, although he was not asked to run routes that require a lot of nuance as often as most receivers.

  • May always be challenged to sell routes the way he will need to in the NFL, as longer-limbed players typically have a harder time sinking their hips and cutting sharply on routes.

  • Disappointing run-after-catch production; was more of a static target in the short and intermediate passing game but also did not break many tackles when he was on the move.

  • One year of production; did not break through until after an up-and-down Kayshon Boutte moved on to the NFL.

Bottom Line

On an offense that featured Jayden Daniels and Malik Nabers, it is difficult to stand out athletically … and yet, Thomas did just that. He is so athletic, in fact, that he should have no problem being an immediate contributor in the NFL. To what degree that happens depends on whether or not some of the traits he flashed were random events or a product of a college offensive coordinator who was not overly interested in developing Thomas' game since he is such a dynamic deep threat. While Rome Odunze was more productive on targets of 20-plus yards in 2023 (23 catches on 49 targets for 783 yards and six touchdowns), what Thomas did with his opportunities was almost otherworldly (15 catches on 22 targets for 670 yards and 12 TDs). For the sake of comparison, Marvin Harrison Jr. posted 15 receptions on 24 deep targets for 598 yards and five scores. Thomas should not have much of an issue being one of the league's best deep receivers early in his career. His ability to track the ball and create natural separation (with his speed) is on another level.

Perhaps the most disappointing part of Thomas' profile is that he does so little after the catch (at least on short and intermediate routes). How much of this was a function of a lack of those opportunities and how much of it was an inability to do it remains to be seen. He also flashes the potential to get more work in the short and intermediate areas - this route shows how fluid he can be as a route-runner while this one displays his ability to sink his hips and change direction - but his ability to do that consistently is in question because he was asked to do it so infrequently. The question with Thomas then becomes if Thomas' usage at LSU was an indictment on his ability to be a complete receiver or more a matter of the team letting Nabers dominate in the short and intermediate areas and almost kind of pigeonholing Thomas because he was such a downfield threat.

Even more than the traditional first-round pick at wide receiver, Thomas is far from a finished product. Most teams will not need to question his ability to contribute right away as a field-stretcher, but they will need to buy into his athleticism and hope the few glimpses LSU gave evaluators of his ability in the short and intermediate passing game are signs that has the potential to win at every level as most true alphas do. While I fear that Thomas' contact balance and play strength are such that he may never be great after the catch, I am confident he can eventually be a more explosive version of Higgins in the right situation (i.e. good position coach, play-caller and quarterback) and given time to develop.

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Doug Orth has written for FFToday since 2006 and been featured in USA TODAY's Fantasy Football Preview magazine since 2010. He is also a high-stakes player who often appears as a guest analyst on a number of national sports radio shows, such as Sirius XM’s “Fantasy Drive." Doug is also a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association.

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