- Aug 1, 1997
- Reaction score
- Sunset, La
By Nick Underhill
It's hard to find new ways to illustrate how good Michael Thomas performed as a rookie.
His routes have been broken down to find where he's most successful. People have analyzed the coverage he excels against to determine how he's getting open. It seems like anything, and everything has been said about him catching 92 passes for 1,137 yards last season.
But the NFL's Next Gen Stats found a new, illuminating way to show how well Thomas played as a rookie. The league uses tracking devices to log every movement a player makes on the field. And by doing so, it's possible to determine how much separation a receiver generates on every target.
What these stats show is that Thomas was one of the best players in the league in getting open, as well as catching passes in traffic. While the numbers are a little raw, and don't take account of the coverage, routes and other factors that would make this information even more meaningful, it's still interesting to analyze.
The NFL slotted Thomas as New Orleans' No. 1 receiver, which is debatable, but classified with the other top receivers in the league, Thomas ranked seventh in average separation at the time of target at 2.38 yards. Pittsburgh's Antonio Brown ranked first at 2.92 yards of separation per target.
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