NFL Draft: 5 Teams That Should Target De’Anthony Thomas
5 NFL Teams That Could Use De'Anthony Thomas' Services
De’Anthony Thomas’ season hasn’t been what he hoped for as the standout offensive weapon battled through an ankle injury that kept him out of action for a total of four weeks. Thomas was a Heisman candidate entering the season, but the injury changed those plans, so now it’s his draft stock that we will focus on.
Thomas is seen as the top running back in the upcoming draft class, and will likely be a first-round pick because of how versatile he is on the offensive side of the ball. He has the speed and talent to be a running back, but he also has the hands to be a wide receiver, giving whatever team drafts the Oregon standout the ability to use him in all facets of the game.
Unless a team with a real dual-threat quarterback, like the San Francisco 49ers, drafts the 5-foot-9 running back, Thomas won’t be in a zone-read offense, and will likely either line up at wide receiver or in the backfield behind the quarterback. Although he would be more productive in an offense similar to the one he's currently in at Oregon, not every team that will be targeting him has the tools to run a spread offense.
The majority of the teams that should be looking at Thomas have either a hole in the backfield, or don’t yet have a franchise-caliber running back. Only a few teams, like the Minnesota Vikings and Seattle Seahawks, should avoid Thomas, but the majority of teams in the NFL could use either an upgrade at running back or an elite slot receiver.
The following five teams that should be taking a serious look at Thomas are all ones that can, or should be focusing on an offensive playmaker in the first round. Given Thomas is a mid-first-round talent, they are also teams that have seen some success this season and will be drafting in the mid-to-late first round.
5. Carolina Panthers
The Carolina Panthers are the most intriguing of the five options as they have the personnel to run a zone-read offense if they draft the playmaking Thomas. Cam Newton is a big-bodied runner that can take the hits of the NFL, but is still a threat to break a big one if defenses read the play wrong. The Panthers are in need of a new receiver with Steve Smith aging, and Thomas is a player that could line up in both the backfield and out in the flat. He could make the Panthers' offense one of the most feared in the league.
4. New York Jets
The talk all season long around the New York Jets camp has been that rookie quarterback Geno Smith needs an offensive weapon. Recently, Chris Ivory has made some noise in the backfield, but wide receiver is where Smith could use Thomas the most. Rumors have it that Santonio Holmes could be departing from the Jets soon, and with Stephen Hill slowly getting acclimated to the NFL game, Thomas is a much-needed weapon that could make the Jets a serious playoff contender right away. Their defense is proving to be ready to compete this season, and if Smith can get a playmaker like Thomas in the slot, the Jets could return to glory sooner than expected.
3. Oakland Raiders
Terrelle Pryor may not be the long-term answer for the Oakland Raiders and they may go with a quarterback in the first round, but if they decided to stick with the running quarterback, Thomas would be an addition that bumps their offense up a notch immediately. Darren McFadden has been injury-prone in his six-year NFL career, meaning Thomas could see time as both a running back and wide receiver for the Raiders. He would really only be in the backfield to give McFadden a rest, or possibly to team up both running backs, giving defenses three runners and a passer to defend against.
2. Miami Dolphins
The Miami Dolphins brought in receiver Mike Wallace to help out franchise quarterback Ryan Tannehill, but so far the newly-acquired Wallace has yet to prove worthy of his contract. Maybe Wallace needs another receiving threat to take the pressure off him, or maybe the Dolphins simply need another playmaker for Wallace to complement. Either way, the Dolphins would benefit from bringing in the speedster as he could provide them a backup option for the unproven Lamar Miller, as well as being effective in his main role as a pass catcher and receiving threat for Tannehill.
1. Kansas City Chiefs
Jamaal Charles is the man in the backfield for the Kansas City Chiefs, but Thomas would fit perfecting in the west coast passing attack of Andy Reid whether Alex Smith or someone else is under center. When in Philadelphia, Reid had LeSean McCoy as his feature back, and the head coach was able to maximize his production by making him a key part of the passing game, something he could do again by drafting Thomas. While the Chiefs will likely be drafting in the high 20s, they could get lucky and have Thomas drop to them if other teams are scared off by the ankle injury or his overall health.