Drafted in the fourth round at the 124th overall pick in this year’s NFL draft was Oregon running back De’Anthony Thomas. This is arguably the most popular pick when you ask Chiefs fans, which pick was their favorite so they expectations may be a little higher than usual for fourth round draft picks. In an article by Josh Alper, he said that Thomas told NFL.com that he expects to lead some statistical categories for the Chiefs, win rookie of the year, and making a trip to the Super Bowl.
Now if those aren’t high expectations, I don’t know what is. Of course Thomas is just the obligatory rookie predicting a deep playoff run for his new team and what rookie doesn’t want to win rookie of the year. If you haven’t watched Thomas’ college highlights, I suggest you go do that now. He is an athletic freak. Whether it be on a hand-off, kick or punt return or on a catch from his former quarterbacks, when Thomas has the ball in his hands, the defense is at least a little bit worried of what is about to happen. Thomas has always been the number one guy so it will be fun to see how the Chiefs use him on the team.
When I say he has always been the number one guy, I mean it. Coming out of high school, he was a five star ranked recruit. He was listed as an Athlete as it wasn’t sure what position he would play in college. He was listed as the number one athlete in his recruiting class and number five overall before he committed to Oregon. While in high school he actually played defensive back and recorded seven interceptions and five sacks so if the Chiefs secondary is as thin as people are thinking it might be, then we could possibly see “The Black Mamba” lined up across Wes Welker (Totally joking). On the offensive side of the ball in high school, he accumulated over 2200 yards on the ground and 30 touchdowns along with 27 receptions, 500+ yards receiving, and seven touchdown catches.
In his college career, he put up crazy numbers by averaging nearly eight yards per rush and 11.5 yards per catch while racking up over 3000 yards from scrimmage and 41 touchdowns from the offensive side of the ball. He also returned five kicks/punts for touchdowns which were some of the most fun plays to watch from his career at Oregon.
It’s intriguing to see where the Chiefs are going to play him on the field and to see what number he will actually wear unless he stays wearing the number one jersey that he’s worn throughout the off-season team workouts.
As of right now, the Chiefs backfield is stacked. Jamaal Charles is no doubt the starter and hopefully will be involved in the NFL MVP race again this year, but you have to think that the Chiefs will use him less, especially with the talent that is behind him and the ruthless schedule that the Chiefs have to play this year. I expect that we will see a lot of all three running backs throughout the year.
With the explosiveness of Thomas, I think he can be the type of guy that even if he doesn’t get several touches per game, the touches that he will make the most of the touches that he will get. He averaged nearly eight yards per carry in college so he can make things happen when you get him the ball in the backfield.
Lining him up at receiver is another option that the Chiefs will explore some. Immediately when he was drafted, people started thinking that he is the replacement of Dexter McCluster, but let’s hope this coaching staff will use Thomas better than the last coaching staff used McCluster in his time here. Andy Reid has had success with short, speedy guys in his offenses in the past in Philadelphia, for example Jeremy Maclin and Desean Jackson.
Also, we all know Dave Toub is licking his chops right now. From the first week in the preseason to the playoff game vs. Indianapolis, the special teams was fun to watch. Whether it was Knile Davis, Dexter McCluster, or Quintin Demps taking the kick and punt returns, there was a good chance that the Chiefs would be set up with nice field position. I envision that Toub will use Thomas and Demps as the main kick and punt return guys. Demps had nearly 1000 yards on 33 kick returns last year, averaging 30.1 per return and had one touchdown to add to his resume too. Special teams is going to be fun to watch next year. Do the Chiefs have their next Dante Hall? Does Toub have his next Devin Hester? Only time will tell what the Chiefs get out of Thomas.
Shamless plug here, but follow me on Twitter @DrewC1420 and send me your Chiefs questions if you want and I’ll answer them the best I can.