Name: Demaryius Thomas
Height: 6’3" Weight: 229 lbs
Age: 29 Experience: 8th
College: Georgia Tech
The last two seasons for the Denver Broncos saw a decline in offensive production. Despite the decline, 2015 ended on the high note of a Super Bowl victory. However, 2016 saw Denver miss the playoffs. What it did not see was Demaryius Thomas catch fewer than 90 passes for less than 1,000 yards.
Thomas’ production at the wide receiver position has been a constant for the Broncos since his breakout year in 2012. During the dumpster fire offensive season that consumed the team, Thomas was still able to put up decent numbers. He is a key piece to the offense no matter who is throwing the football. He did all this while battling a hip injury for most of the 2016 season.
Heading into his 8th season in the NFL, Thomas will continue to be a leader on offense, and a security blanket for whichever quarterback emerges as the starter. This season may be the most important for Thomas since signing his big contract in July of 2015. With nothing but young quarterbacks on the roster to throw the football, Thomas - along with Emmanuel Sanders - will need to be a bit of a security blanket.
The wide receiver duo of Thomas and Sanders is arguably the best in the NFL, and should be a huge help for either Paxton Lynch or Trevor Siemian (or Chad Kelly or Kyle Sloter). Thomas should also flourish in Mike McCoy’s offense. His breakout 2012 season came with McCoy in charge of the offense. While it won’t be Peyton Manning throwing him the football, that hasn't seemed to matter.
Every position group feels like an unknown for the Broncos offense. The Broncos don’t have a starting QB, the offensive line is being rebuilt, running backs are young or injury prone, the tight end position seems up for grabs. The one place on offense that has no concerns is WR. This is about the abilities of Thomas and Sanders, who will be important leaders in 2017.
Some will argue that Thomas needs to clean up the drops. Even with his issues here, he is still considered a top-tier wideout. He is a consistent weapon that can only help the young group of quarterbacks improve.
Thomas is an elite talent. He is one of the best wide receivers in the NFL, and has been one of the most consistent players over the last five seasons. Since 2012, he has never caught fewer than 90 passes for less than 1,000 yards. Under Mike McCoy, Thomas will likely continue this trend and should find the end zone more frequently. He is a leader on offense, and will likely lead this team to vastly improved offensive numbers.
Drops. It would be nice to gloss over this issue or pass blame to some issues with the way the ball is thrown, but that isn’t possible. The biggest issue that has faced Thomas in his career is drops. Thomas had 7 drops in 2016 on 144 targets. Bronco fans have complained ever since Thomas signed his major contract about dropping passes.
Another potential problem is health. Having dealt with a hip injury, the concern is keeping Thomas healthy. This is a problem for all players in the NFL, but hip injuries can be particularly tricky.
“They both had their up and down days,” Thomas said. “I remember Trevor’s been pretty cool the whole time, but everybody has bad days. … The last couple of weeks, [Lynch] was just lighting it up. It was like, ‘Whoa, where’d that come from?’ It’s going to be a good competition. I’m excited about it.”
One of the easiest things to discuss for the Broncos is the wide receiver duo of Thomas and Sanders. Sanders has quickly become a fan favorite, and essential to the success of the team, but Thomas is still WR1. New head coach Vance Joseph is ready for Thomas to become a more dominant player.
Speaking with the media back in March, Joseph made a strong statement about this.
"I want him to be a dominant player all the time," Joseph said. "I don't want him to ease into games. I want him to step out and be a guy.
"It's time — because he's a great player. He can take over a game. But every game we play, I want his mindset to be to walk on the field and take over the game."
Thomas is primed for a big season. His ability to take over a game could be key to the Broncos recapturing the top spot in a stacked AFC West.