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New Orleans Saints

Does Michael Thomas deserve to be All-Pro?

Kyle Posey

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Dec 17, 2017; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Saints wide receiver Michael Thomas (13) catches a pass over New York Jets strong safety Jamal Adams (33) during the second half at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. The Saints defeated the Jets 31-19. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports
Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

As of today, Michael Thomas is third in the NFL in receptions. He is sixth in the league in total yards and yards per game. He is fourth in receptions that went for first downs. This is his second year in the NFL. To be that productive on an offense that has essentially evolved into a “run-first” offense is nothing short of spectacular. Today we are asking if Thomas deserves to be an All-Pro this year. It’s going to come down to six players fighting for four spots on the first and second teams. I’ll make the argument for Thomas.

Catching targets should stand for something. For example, Marvin Jones is catching 55 percent of his passes. Likely All-Pro Deandre Hopkins is catching 57 percent. I know many will blame that on quarterback play, but that’s not always the case. Hopkins is getting an insane amount of targets every game. Naturally, he’ll have the numbers. Coming into last week Hopkins had 30 more targets than Thomas. Thirty! Thomas is catching 68 percent of his passes coming into this week. He caught nine of his 11 targets, so that number might go up a little. He’s that reliable. That cannot go unnoticed. What I love about Thomas is he makes the contested catches look easy.

That should not look as easy as it does. Beating press coverage is one thing. Spinning away from momentum and high pointing a pass while hanging on through a hit solidifies the use of the word absurd.

Look no further than last week for another great example.

That’s a big-time catch. Thomas isn’t spoon fed near the goal line so he doesn’t have the touchdown numbers of some other receivers. Again, that’s just a part of the evolution of the Saints’ offense. Now that they can run the ball there’s no reason to have Drew Brees dropping back and throwing it every play like we’re used to seeing. That shouldn’t be taken away from Thomas.

If we’re including team success, that might eliminate Keenan Allen and Hopkins. Both are having great seasons in their own right. I mentioned targets and Hopkins. Allen didn’t get going until the last month. Thomas has been steady Eddie the entire way. It’s not until recently that we’ve seen an uptick in his touchdowns. New Orleans is starting to scheme for Thomas in scoring situations — that could do wonders these last few weeks to make a case for Thomas as an All-pro. He has three touchdowns the past three weeks. Prior to that he hadn’t scored since October 1. With double-digit targets in five of the last seven games, it’s fair to think Thomas will continue to score. In the two games when Thomas didn’t have double digits, he had eight and nine targets. The Saints are getting him the ball.

From a route running standpoint, Thomas is as good as anyone. He has some of the best feet in the game.

That’s a good corner — Trumaine Johnson — he’s going against. That’s too easy. That’s what Thomas does. Last week against the Jets his role was to find holes in the middle of the defense. He showed his awareness as a receiver. It’s not going to be flashy. What it is: productive.

If you’re looking at raw numbers you’re likely going to forget about Thomas when coming up with an All-Pro list. If you appreciate the game and what he does for his team, it’s not that tough a decision. You can’t make two teams and leave Thomas off. He’s too valuable this year. What’s scary is he’s nowhere near his ceiling as a player.

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Kyle majored in sports marketing & minored in communications at Texas Southern. He has written for SB Nation, Bleacher Report, among other websites. He now resides in the Iowa City area as an accountant & high school football coach. Follow him on twitter @kp_show

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