Analyst cites key stat as reason not to overlook Jaguars WR Brian Thomas Jr.

• Jaguars rookie Brian Thomas Jr. has the tools to become a big-play threat and an underrated Fantasy Football target in 2024.
Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Brian Thomas (7) pulls in a pass during Friday's rookie minicamp session in Jacksonville, Florida Friday, May 10, 2024.
Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Brian Thomas (7) pulls in a pass during Friday's rookie minicamp session in Jacksonville, Florida Friday, May 10, 2024. / Bob Self/Florida Times-Union / USA TODAY

The Jacksonville Jaguars came out of the 2024 draft with a mix of players who'll have an immediate impact and a few others who'll need time to develop. Out of the bunch, though, only wide receiver Brian Thomas Jr. is slated to be a starter come Week 1. Adam Rank of NFL Media recently suggested keeping a close eye on the former LSU Tiger.

In his State of the Franchise series, Rank took a look at the Jags' roster. As his hot take, he warned everyone not to overlook Thomas as a Fantasy Football target, citing his big-play capability and his fit in the Jacksonville offense as the reasons.

"I don't know where you rank the LSU receiver, but I'd guess you're way too low. I thought he should have gone much higher in April's draft than he did (23rd overall), but I do think he found a really good landing spot with the Jaguars.

Even if he has to fight Christian Kirk, Gabe Davis and Evan Engram for targets, Thomas has big-play potential, given that he led the FBS with 12 deep receiving touchdowns (those of 20-plus air yards) in 2023. He might be better suited for best-ball leagues, but I'm taking him this year."

Thomas, the 23rd overall pick in the draft, was the fourth receiver taken in the first round. The Jags were seemingly interested in Malik Nabers and Rome Odunze but instead of trying to move up into the top 10 to take either one, they traded down six spots to select Thomas.

Although he wasn't in the same tier as Nabers, Odunze, or Marvin Harrison Jr. (the big 3), Thomas was projected to go in the first round. His route running and release at the line of scrimmage require a bit of work, but those are things that can be polished with coaching.

It's also worth noting that Thomas' catch rate in 2023 was 76.4 percent while his drop rate sat at 5.3 percent. If that kind of production carries over into the NFL, he'll have an impact right off the bat.

Brian Thomas Jr. is in a position to make an impact for the Jaguars in Year 1

Adam Rank was talking about Thomas mostly in Fantasy Football terms but his argument also applies to his impact on the football field. Losing Calvin Ridley in free agency stung but the rookie receiver has the tools to become a worthy replacement.

So far, Thomas has been getting positive reviews. Offensive coordinator Press Taylor believes his communication could improve. But other than that, he's pleased with his development. Throughout the offseason program, he has put on display the skills that made him a playmaker for the Tigers.

Having said that, it's hard to see Thomas crossing the 1,000-yard as a rookie. Not because he lacks the talent but rather because the Jaguars have a wide arsenal of weapons. Moreover, the coaching staff may want to ease his workload early on and increase it as the season progresses.

Either way, the Jacksonville Jaguars come out of the draft with a player with the potential to develop into a WR1 with deep-threat capability. As Rank suggests, he shouldn't be overlooked.

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