College: Southern Miss
Position: Wide Receiver
College Stats: 112 catches, 1,983 yards, 19 touchdowns, 41 kickoff returns (22.8 yards per return average).
One of the multitude of JUCO transfers to come through Southern Miss in recent years, Thomas plays much bigger than his 6-1 frame. The Chicago, Illinois native had a solid season as a junior in 2014 with 41 catches for 592 yards and five touchdowns. He pulled in All-Conference USA Honorable Mention honors that season.
With the entire Southern Miss offense taking a step forward in 2015, Thomas was at the forefront with 71 receptions for 1,391 yards and 14 touchdowns as a senior. Among the number of touchdown catches was one of the best catches from any player in 2015, a one handed grab versus Louisiana Tech. Just look at it.
Simply put, Thomas plays every play like it is his last play of his career. He is a high motor player with his RPMs in the red for all four quarters. Thomas plays more like he is 6-4 receiver and is not afraid of a little contact in the air. Many scouts had question marks about his productivity during the regular season due to competition, but he was a man among boys with 190 yards receiving and two touchdowns in a bowl game versus a very good Washington defense.
Thomas has gotten much better at running routes throughout his career and looks very smooth on the field. He has the ability to speed up or slow down mid route in order to catch in stride and get the all important yards after the catch.
One thing Thomas must improve at the NFL level is his ability to beat a cornerback in press coverage. When he has been controlled, it has been versus physical cornerbacks that make it hard to get his route started. Learning variations in route running techniques from a seasoned wide receivers coach could help with that problem.
Thomas does have concentration issues with a few too many dropped passes for no good reason. He must finish off the pass catching process after working so hard to beat coverage. Thomas must also prove that he can block without holding in the run game.
Where will Thomas get drafted?
The Southern Miss wide receiver needs to go to an offense that needs significant help with the deep ball. The hometown Chicago Bears fit that need with very few good wide receiver options on the current roster.
My prediction is Mike Thomas getting drafted by the Chicago Bears with the #185 selection of the sixth round. It would also not surprise me to see Thomas' former head coach Todd Monken (OC at Tampa Bay) talk the Buccaneers into using the #183 pick on Thomas.