Josh McDaniels Talks About Demaryius Thomas’ Development


The Josh McDaniels era with the Denver Broncos wasn’t exactly the one that fans will look on most kindly. However, it wasn’t all that bad, as McDaniels was the reason behind the drafting of star wide receiver Demaryius Thomas in 2010, a player that he made the first receiver selected in that draft and has turned out to be one of the best receivers in Denver Broncos history — already.

Thomas and McDaniels didn’t spend much time together as player and coach. After drafting him, McDaniels was fired with four games remaining in the 2010 season, a year in which Thomas had just 22 receptions in 10 games. The upside was always there with DT, but McDaniels never got to see it as a coach on the Broncos, though he spoke to the media on Tuesday amid the Super Bowl festivities, and he praised his 2010 first round draft pick.

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“I thought he was incredibly explosive and for the lack of passes that they had at Georgia Tech, I thought he caught the ball well and was immediately into the defense,” McDaniels said. “I thought that’s where we could really see something. We knew he would enable you to throw the ball down the field, but his catch and run has been something that has stood out. He’s very difficult to tackle. I’m really happy he’s been able to stay healthy, that first year he went through some things, he fought through it. Total pro, couldn’t be happier for him.”

The crazy thing about Thomas was not his ascension to stardom but the way he developed into such a complete receiver, given the fact that at Georgia Tech they run a Triple-Option and Thomas was simply one big play after another, not necessarily running a ‘pro-style’ route tree. He emerged in 2012 with Peyton Manning as the Broncos’ quarterback for his first 1,000 yard season and has not looked back. He has racked up at least 1,430 yards in each of the last three seasons including a career-high 1,619 in 2014, his contract season.

Thomas has also caught 35 touchdowns over the last three seasons, and hasn’t lost a fumble since 2012.

“He’s obviously made himself a great player,” McDaniels said. “He’s so much more versatile now than when I had him that first year. He’s inside, he’s outside, he’s running different routes, he can stop and start, he can go down the field, he’s a tremendous run-after catch player, which we knew that he would be when we got him … I also think he’s been an unselfish guy. He’s played in an unbelievable offense the last few years there and you can’t get them all, but you don’t see him not blocking in the run game and doing all those other things too.”

Thomas, due a contract extension this offseason, is the Broncos’ best free agent this offseason and will more than likely be given the franchise tag if they can’t sign him to a long-term deal. In all likelihood,  Thomas will be among the top five highest paid receivers in the NFL when all is said and done, though some still don’t consider him in the discussion as a top five receiver.

Clearly, this was a wise choice by Josh McDaniels, who took Thomas over Dallas Cowboys star Dez Bryant. Bryant has also had a phenomenal NFL career to this point, so the decision was really a win-win for the Broncos.