NFL Draft Profile: Brian Thomas Jr. goes in the first round of the draft

LSU wide receiver is projected to be a first round pick in the 2024 NFL Draft. PHOTO BY: LSU athletics

Former LSU wide receiver Brian Thomas Jr. was selected No. 23 overall by the Jacksonville Jaguars in the 2024 NFL Draft in Detroit.

Thomas was the fourth receiver taken in the 2024 NFL Draft and was the second LSU wide receiver taken in the first round after Malik Nabers was taken at No. 6 by the Giants.

It was the first time LSU had two wide receivers taken in the first round of the same draft since Dwayne Bowe and Craig Davis both went in the first round of the 2007 NFL Draft.

LSU head coach Brian Kelly said that Thomas was on the rise and has yet to reach his full potential before the draft.

“[Thomas is] ascending in my eyes,” Kelly said. “This is a guy that is just breaking onto the scene. He won a state championship in basketball, he’s just an incredible athlete who I think is scratching the surface. Tall, athletic. He’s not just a guy that runs nine routes. He can run after the catch, he’s very slippery after he catches the football, he can make people miss, I just think he’s a guy who continues to get better and better.”

Thomas came to LSU as a four-star prospect and the No. 9 wide receiver in his class. Thomas came to Baton Rouge in the same class as Nabers and was rated as a higher prospect.

Thomas took longer to hit his stride at LSU than Nabers did though. He finished his freshman season with 28 receptions for 359 yards and two touchdowns. His best performance came against ULM where he had four receptions for 61 yards.

Thomas’ sophomore season saw him improve his statists, but only slightly. He finished with 31 receptions for 361 yards and five touchdowns. However, his junior season would see him make the jump from rotational wideout to an elite pass catcher.

Thomas set the tone from the start of the season with a career high 142 receiving yards in a week one loss to Florida state. He kept up the pace next week when he caught six passes for 78 yards and two touchdowns.

Thomas finished the season with 68 receptions for 1,177 yards and a nation-leading 17 touchdowns. He had at least one touchdown in every game except for three and his 17 touchdowns were just one shy of Justin Jefferson’s mark of 18 in 2019. Thomas ended his career with 24 touchdown receptions which tied for the third most in school history.

His best game of the season when he posted 150 receiving yards and two touchdowns on six catches against Florida. He was named third-team Associated Press All-American and second-team All-SEC after the 2023 season.

Thomas showed off his combination of size and speed at the NFL Combine where he ran the second fastest 40 time of any receiver with a 4.33 and posted 11 reps on bench.

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Will Nickel

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