De’Anthony Thomas: Chiefs’ hybrid vehicle


With the recent talks that De’Anthony Thomas would be shifting from running back to wide receiver, I can’t help but imagine how that might help Kansas City’s ailing wide receiver group. Greg Rosenthal has listed the Chiefs as the weakest wide receiver group in the league, and I can’t even put together an argument that would say otherwise until they prove us wrong on the field.

De’Anthony Thomas was brought into replace Dexter McCluster, who left through free agency. If you compare their sizes, they are almost identical. Their first-year stats also carry some similarities. In each of their first years in the league, De’Anthony Thomas caught 23 passes for 156 yards and ran 14 times for 113 yards, while Dexter McCluster caught 21 passes for 209 yards and ran 18 times for 71 yards.

When we look at their touchdowns in that first year, their differences become starker. They both scored touchdowns in the offensive area where they excelled the most: De’Anthony scored a rushing touchdown rushing, and McCluster, a receiving touchdown. This makes sense for Chiefs fans that Dexter was a better receiver than rusher. We saw over and over that McCluster just could not find holes when he was running, which often resulted in just 2-3 yard gains. It was difficult to watch as McCluster had the game-breaking ability we all loved but never fully lived up to the expectations based off his exciting college career.

In Thomas’ first year, he produced well running the ball and when I say “well,” it’s a vast understatement  — he averaged 8.1 yards per carry in his 14 attempts. So why did the rookie only get a total of 14 carries if he was doing so well? Well I’m not a detective but I’ve seen enough 21 Jump Street to put some theories together for you.

His size limits the amount of touches he gets and this is just crushing because he is insanely productive with the few touches he gets. In his freshman year, he had 55 attempts and averaged 10.8 yards per carry. My second theory is an obvious reason: Jamaal Charles and Knile Davis both suit up ahead of him. Their combined talent cuts into his touches even more.

When we look at Kansas City’s running back corp vs the wide receiver corp, it makes sense for the Chiefs to try to develop Thomas as a wide receiver. KC’s strength at rushing outshines the receiving group in every aspect. The only spot that’s solidified is Jeremy Maclin as the number one receiver at this point. Every other spot is up in the air. Thomas could seize a great opportunity to be a big piece of the Chiefs’ receiving game.

When you look at successful receivers around the league with a height similar to Thomas’, you could mention names like Antonio Brown (5-foot-10),  T.Y. Hilton (5-foot-9), or Julian Edelman (5-foot-10). Those are lofty expectations, but De’Anthony has incredible game speed that allows one to think that if he could put on a little weight and develop his route running, we could see some great things from this player. Let’s also not pretend that he has no experience making big catching plays as you can see from the video below.

With Thomas being so versatile, they continue to use him as an “offensive weapon” while they work on developing him into a receiver. He can still do some damage in that role, but it’d be certainly in his and the team’s best interest to nail down a position and develop him to maximize his potential.

What do you think, Addicts?