Logan Thomas is an easy choice for the Buffalo Bills' breakout player. Just keeping it a buck, Thomas has yet to have a single catch in a regular season NFL game, so he has nowhere to go but up!
That isn't the only reason why I chose him. Terrelle Pryor's success at wide receiver last season with Cleveland was yet another reminder that sometimes an athletic quarterback will make an even better skill position guy in the league. What makes Thomas' situation unique is that instead of playing wide receiver or defensive back — the positions athletic quarterbacks normally transition to — his size has allowed him to move to tight end.
The physicality of playing tight end may present Thomas with a few more challenges than a guy like Pryor had moving to wide receiver, but Thomas will be fine long as the Bills put him in positions to succeed.
He may not be quite as athletic as Pryor — hell, who is? — but Thomas' combine numbers were still pretty impressive. He ran a 4.61, had a vertical leap of 35.5 inches, and a short shuttle of 4.16 seconds. He did those things at the combine at 248 pounds and now he is listed at just two pounds heavier, so I don't imagine he lost much if any of that athleticism with his change in position. So just off his combination of size and athleticism alone, it’s very plausible that Thomas could develop into a legit match-up problem in the passing game. All that is left to find out is if he can catch.
Sounds like a small thing, but it isn't.
Some folks tend to assume that an NFL player should be able to catch the football relatively well, and then are flummoxed when a guy who had quite a few drops in college ends up having quite a few drops in the pros as well. Dudes who have been playing wide receiver or tight end their whole lives may end up struggling to make catches when they get to the league, so it certainly stands to reason that a guy who only recently switched to one of those positions might have some issues with it as well.
So far Thomas has looked at least OK catching the football in the preseason, so I'm cautiously optimistic.
If there was one criticism I had of Pryor last year during his breakout season, it was that he didn't come down with as many 50/50 balls as I thought he should have. I had to keep reminding myself that he was just getting used to being a receiver. From what I've seen in camp from him this year, it appears that Pryor has indeed worked on getting better at coming down with contested catches.
With Thomas, there is no way of knowing just how quickly he will get better at making contested catches, but to me that is the only thing that would hold him back from having pretty impressive numbers this season.
Maybe he won't set the world on fire this year, but I do think Thomas will make a decent contribution to the Buffalo offense, if he stays healthy. With zero catches to his name so far, just about any level of production would qualify as a breakout season for him.
I expect Thomas to end up with over 20 catches this season which, considering the position switch, would definitely qualify as a legit breakout season in any sense of the term. He could easily be even more productive than that. And that’s why Logan Thomas is my choice for the Bills’ breakout player for 2017.