Brian Thomas Jr. Scouting Report
By Charlie Campbell
- Tall receiver
- Fast; can go vertical
- Presents mismatch ability with size or speed
- Explosive speed to get vertical
- Threat to rip off a chunk gain on any reception
- Deceptive speed
- Burst to get downfield
- Maintains speed throughout the route
- Quick release off of the line
- First-step quickness
- Challenges the defense downfield
- Body control
- Quick feet
- Leaping ability
- Very good on contested catches
- Dangerous to win 50-50 passes
- Skill set of a No. 1 receiver for the NFL
- Doesn’t play to size
- Not a good route runner
- Not tough
- Drops passes
The LSU offense was lethal in 2023, and quarterback Jayden Daniels produced some huge numbers en route to winning the Heisman Trophy. Malik Nabers was the Tigers’ No. 1 receiver, but Thomas also was a dangerous weapon who had a breakout year in the SEC. In 2023, Thomas caught 68 passes for 1,177 yards – a 17.3 average – and 17 touchdowns. It was a huge increase in production over his sophomore (31-361-5) and freshman (28-359-2) seasons. With Daniels moving on to the NFL, Thomas followed suit.
Wide receivers with Thomas’ skill set of being big, fast and productive don’t last long in NFL drafts, and Thomas has special ability for the next level. Big receivers are a dime a dozen, but what sets Thomas apart from a typical big wide-out is how he can really run. Thomas displays explosiveness and elite speed to get vertical. After a quick first-step, Thomas has another gear to accelerate down the field and flat-out burn defenses over the top. He can run by double coverage and create separation from defensive backs by beating them in a vertical race downfield. Thomas’ speed allows him to consistently generate separation from defensive backs as he is very difficult to run with.
Thomas’ height makes him dangerous at reeling in contested catches. He uses his height and length to be a weapon for hauling in contested catches over defensive backs. With his height and ability to win on 50-50 passes, Thomas is a nice red-zone weapon and a point producer for his offense.
While Thomas is tall and fast, he has some significant weaknesses that need to be improved upon at the pro level. His route-running is not good and needs to be sharper for taking on NFL cornerbacks. Even though he is big, Thomas does not play tough and is a finesse wide receiver. There are also issues with dropped passes that Thomas needs to fix. It would help Thomas if his NFL team understood that he is going to need some developmental time and that the expectations should not be for immediate production.
For the NFL, Thomas could fit well as a X – split end – receiver who works along the sideline and challenges teams vertically. Some NFL team sources say they think Thomas has the second best skill set of any receiver in the 2024 NFL Draft, behind only Ohio State’s Marvin Harrison Jr. However, other team sources said they felt Thomas’ lack of toughness and route-running are going to be significant problems. He comes with some boom-or-bust potential for the NFL, but given his skill set, he is a likely first-round pick for the 2024 NFL Draft.
Marquez Valdes-Scantling. Thomas is very similar to Valdes-Scantling. They are almost identical in size while both have deep speed to stretch defenses vertically. Valdes-Scantling (6-4, 205) has a habit of playing a little smaller than his listed numbers and has some finesse aspects to his game. In the NFL, Thomas could end up being a wideout similar to Valdes-Scantling as a player who will flash big-time ability.