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NY Jets have reportedly ‘done a lot of work’ on top WR prospect

Brian Thomas Jr.
Brian Thomas Jr., Getty Images

New York Jets could be targeting a specific wide receiver prospect

The NFL draft is less than a week away and anything can happen. Tight end Brock Bowers is the current betting favorite to be the New York Jets’ first selection, but the Jets could target one of the top three wide receivers or an offensive tackle instead.

Dane Brugler, a draft analyst for The Athletic, reported that the Jets have their eyes on a wide receiver prospect who sits outside of the consensus top-three. Speaking to The Athletic’s Zack Rosenblatt, Brugler revealed that the Jets have “done a lot of work on Brian Thomas Jr.”.

Thomas has been the forgotten man in a strong wide receiver class, overshadowed by LSU teammate Malik Nabers. He’s not seen at the level of the top three prospects but is viewed as a step above the next tier. Several analysts believe Thomas is just scratching the surface of his potential.

At LSU, Thomas was asked to run a simple route tree where he rarely got the opportunity to display his talents outside of deep passes. Brugler spoke about how, while he is inexperienced, Thomas excelled when allowed to do more.

Former NFL wide receiver Steve Smith Sr. is another believer in his potential. Smith ranked Thomas as the best route runner in the draft and compared him to 49ers star Brandon Aiyuk. Smith says that Thomas excels at the nuances in route running similar to Garrett Wilson, allowing him to get open with ease.

Thomas’ physical tools give him plenty of room to improve as well. Thomas lit up the combine, running a 4.33 at 6-foot-3. This speed shows up on tape as Thomas separates downfield with ease. He was also excellent in the broad and long jump, helping him earn a Relative Athletic Score (RAS) of 9.84.

Thomas has the physical tools to win matchups but his nuances with route running are what can make him a special NFL player. While plenty of players can run fast in the NFL, few can do it at his size and even fewer can stop on a dime like he can.

Thomas is projected in the late teens but Brugler said he thinks he can go higher. Brugler noted that several top 10 teams have brought in Thomas for top 30 visits and believes he will go in the top half of round one.

One final item to Thomas’ benefit is LSU’s history of producing wide receivers, especially in pairs. Most recently, Ja’Marr Chase and Justin Jefferson were teammates and are now two of the best receivers in the NFL. Malik Nabers and Brian Thomas Jr. are hoping to follow the same path.

So where does that leave the Jets? With all the discussion regarding Brock Bowers or Rome Odunze, would Thomas be a realistic fallback option at No. 10?

While Thomas has his fans, the Jets may view the 10th pick as too rich to take the fourth-rated wide receiver. However, the Jets have been rumored as a potential trade-back team. If they move back into the teens, Thomas will be a more viable target.

Alternatively, some mocks have the top three receivers and Bowers gone before the Jets are on the clock, which would make Thomas a more plausible option at No. 10.

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