7 – Julius Thomas
It has been a long time since we have seen a tight end burst onto the scene quite like Julius Thomas did with Broncos in 2013.
Now there is no doubting his talent, but it has to be said that possibly the greatest quarterback to ever take the field, Peyton Manning, was a big reason for such an outbreak. No one was better at making receivers better, especially tight ends, than The Sheriff.
That being said, Thomas definitely is a tremendous red zone threat and has a very nice set of hands on him. A very big target with the ability to separate from defenses, or hang around defenders, can make plenty of big catches.
Thomas set a Broncos’ record for most touchdown catches by a tight end in a single season with 12 and added 788 yards on 65 catches as well. He also tied the single-game record (Shannon Sharpe) for touchdown catches by a tight end with three in the first half of the first game of the season against the Indianapolis Colts.
Thomas signed a hefty contract with the Jaguars in the 2015 offseason (Five years $46 million) and was expected to be the full-time starter there as well. He missed the first month of the season for the Jags, but still managed to put up solid numbers only playing in 12 games in a new offense (46 REC, 455 YDS, 5 TD).
With one year under his belt and being more acclimated with the offense as well as the emergence of young quarterback Blake Bortles, we should see a lot of what we saw from Thomas in Denver.
In no way am I comparing Blake Bortles to Peyton Manning, but there is no reason that Bortles can’t make great use of Thomas in the red zone like Manning did.
Prediction: 70 Receptions – 750 Yards – 11 Touchdowns