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  • Writer's pictureElijah Southwick

Where does Brian Thomas Jr. rank among NFL Draft Prospects?

Wide receiver Brian Thomas Jr. represents an inflection point among the 2024 NFL Draft’s prospects at his position. This year’s receiver class is considered one of the best in years. Marvin Harrison Jr. is considered the top non-quarterback prospect on the board, and WRs Malik Nabers and Rome Odunze are on their way to being top 10 overall picks themselves.

Thomas Jr. finds himself as the WR4 in most rankings, but his overall draft stock has been the topic of debate in draft forecasting circles since the NFL Combine. Thomas Jr.’s athletic testing was eye-popping, measuring in at 6-foot-3, 209 pounds and running a ridiculous 4.33 40-yard dash. That’s a 99th percentile weight-adjusted speed score.

Thomas Jr.’s big 2023 season at LSU catapulted him into first round discussion. He broke out as part of an elite offensive trio including Heisman Trophy-winning QB Jayden Daniels and elite receiving prospect Malik Nabers. Thomas Jr. posted 68 catches for 1,177 yards and 17 touchdowns as a true junior in 13 games played. He carries early declare status and SEC pedigree into the draft.

Will he be a steal as the WR4 in the class? Or is he not so much better than the rest of the draft’s receivers that NFL teams should wait until Day 2 to draft one?

Thomas Jr. currently ranks as the 19th overall player in the class according to NFL Mock Draft Database. He’s considered somewhat of a raw prospect both due to his underwhelming production profile as an underclassman and room for growth as a route runner. He may rely more on his physical traits early in his NFL career as he cleans up and improves his technique. These negative marks may cause some teams to exercise caution at the top of the draft or look to draft other players entirely.

It’s the time of year when it’s important to remind ourselves that not every exciting NFL prospect will become a star. Some will be massive busts at the NFL level, and identifying those players in advance is a near-impossible task. But in my opinion, Brian Thomas Jr.’s prospect profile is head and shoulders better than players such as Adonai Mitchell, Xavier Worthy, Troy Franklin and Ladd McConkey.

The impact of hitting on a rookie wide receiver is massive in today’s NFL. In Thomas Jr.’s projected draft range, there will be strong prospects available at quarterback, offensive tackle, edge rusher and cornerback. Team needs and the depth of the receiver class may push Thomas Jr. down the board, but there are several teams in the 10-20 range of the first round who should be licking their chops at the possibility of adding the LSU product to their roster.

Teams like the Jets, Saints, Colts, Jaguars and Steelers all have starting quarterbacks firmly in place and room to add receiving talent to their depth charts. He will be an immense value for teams in that range after Harrison Jr., Nabers and Odunze come off the board early in the draft. In the right situation, Brian Thomas Jr. could be on his way to a great NFL career.

Elijah Southwick is the lead sports content writer for Degen Magazine. His work has appeared in several news and sports publications.

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