Wide receiver is a top priority for the Cincinnati Bengals in this year's draft. After losing both Marvin Jones and Mohamed Sanu in free agency, there is no doubt that the Bengals need to add depth at wideout. Fortunately for them, there are some intriguing wide receivers in the upcoming draft that could help their offense immensely. One of those receivers is Michael Thomas from Ohio State University, who the Bengals have already been linked to.
Weight: 212 lbs
Hand size: 10 1/2"
40-yard dash: 4.57 sec
Shuttle: 4.13 sec
Cone: 6.8 sec
Vertical jump: 35"
Bench press: 18 reps
Thomas was Ohio State's best receiver in his last two seasons. His junior year, he led the team with 56 catches for 781 yards and nine touchdowns. He wasn't a workhorse receiver, as he never had any 100-yard receiving games during his career, but he showed his great athleticism and strong hands time and time again, most notably in the national semifinal against Alabama in the 2014 college playoffs.
Strengths: One thing that's easy to notice from Thomas' highlight reel is his outstanding footwork. He is a deliberate route runner who moves within the route and can turn the simplest plays into big gains. He has great balance that allows him to keep himself in-bounds for tip-toe sideline catches and is well built for the position. He has very strong hands that allow him to outwork defensive backs for 50-50 balls. He isn't the fastest guy off the line, but he can build up speed well to out-run defenders once he has the ball. Thomas is also great at highpointing the ball and coming down with high throws.
Weaknesses: As mentioned before, he is not the fastest of receivers. His 4.57 40 time shows that he isn't going to be blowing past defenders as soon as the ball is snapped, so they can often match his speed and keep him from getting open. This also keeps him from being able to quickly create space outside of his designed route. He tends to get ahead of himself and not focus on the ball, causing him to drop some passes despite his strong hands. On top of that, his lower body movements aren't always fluid and that can lead to some awkward plays. He did not have a heavy workload at Ohio State, so it's uncertain how he will respond if he is relied upon in a large role on the offense.
Bottom Line: Thomas is not going to blind you with his speed, and he's going to have some rough moments where he drops passes or makes some uncomfortable moves, but his upside is high. He has great athleticism and has the body type to play wide receiver in the NFL. His ability to build up speed once he gets going makes him hard to stop when he has the ball, and his moves within the route help him get open quite often. He dazzled Ohio State fans with his play, and now he may get to amaze Ohio sports fans even more if he ends up with the Bengals.
Thomas' draft status is currently late first round to second round. Our own Connor Howe took him in the second round in his Bengals' mock draft, and if he is available with the 55th overall pick, it would be a great choice for Cincinnati. It's obvious that they need some help at wide receiver, even after signing Brandon Lafell.
Thomas would certainly help fill the void that Marvin Jones and Mohamed Sanu left on the depth chart as they headed elsewhere in free agency. There are receivers ranked above Thomas, such as Laquon Treadwell from Ole Miss, Corey Coleman from Baylor, and Will Fuller from Notre Dame, so even if the Bengals do go with a receiver early it's not certain that Thomas would be their first choice. However, by the second round, the already mentioned receivers will almost certainly be off the board, and if Thomas is still available by the time the 55th pick comes around, he'd be a great choice for Cincinnati and fills a team need.