PFF scouting report: Noel Thomas Jr., WR, Connecticut
Name: Noel Thomas Jr.
Position fit: Versatile receiver
Stats to know: Averaged 2.29 yards per route run from the slot, which ranked inside the top-20 among all NCAA receivers in 2016.
What he does best:
- Impressive hands catcher. Has a big catch radius and will extend to fullest to reach ball anywhere near him. Hands strong enough to hold onto ball through contact.
- Great body control. His quarterback in college was not very accurate and Thomas was able to jump and twist his body to make spectacular catches both in the middle of the field and along the sideline.
- Often plays faster than the 4.63 40-yard dash time he ran at the combine. He ran a 4.42 at his pro day, which is much closer to his tape speed.
- Good, quick footwork off the line to beat press coverage.
- Very effective working the seam from the slot in college, knows how to adjust his routes there in order to beat coverage.
- Solid after-the-catch skills, can make guys miss and go through defenders. Forced 16 missed tackles last season.
- Concentration drops. Had seven last season on 107 catchable targets (17 in his career on 198 targets).
- Inconsistent speed. While at times he showcased the 4.42 speed he ran at his pro day, there were a lot of times where he looked more like his combine time of 4.63.
- Has a tendency to slow down when trying to track the ball over his shoulder and allows defenders to either get back into the play or make a play on the ball.
- Slow, telegraphed double moves, rarely faked a defender out with them.
- Route running needs work. Flashed great routes at times but overall had slow, rounded breaks and not a ton of variety.
- Not as physical while running routes as he could be. Gets rerouted by defenders at times.
Player comparison: Kamar Aiken, Indianapolis Colts
Aiken’s been an effective slot receiver in the NFL because of his ability to work the seam with decent speed and route-running combined with very impressive hands and excellent body control for off target passes. Thomas could develop into a similar player given the right opportunity.
Bottom line: Thomas is a fun player to watch because every so often he’ll make a catch that just screams NFL receiver. That said, he’ll need to clean up a handful of things with his game if he wants to find a consistent role. His route running could be improved and his consistency with hands and speed definitely needs work. If he can shore that up though, he could be an effective slot receiver at the next level with the ability to move outside in certain situations.