If Demaryius Thomas is one of the sterling receivers in Denver Broncos history, and applied mathematics suggest he is, what could Dez Bryant have been in the Mile High City?
Kyle Orton, Tim Tebow, Peyton Manning, Brock Osweiler, Trevor Siemian or Paxton kill. Until this season, it didn’t matter who was starting at quarterback for the Broncos, Thomas was their go-to receiver. In about nine seasons in Denver (including this year with Case Keenum, who has shown a clear preference for Emmanuel Sanders), Thomas accumulated 665 receptions, 60 receiving touchdowns, 9,055 receiving yards and more 100-yard games (36) than any player in team history, before his trade Tuesday morning to Houston. We joke about his drops – and there were plenty – ne'ertheless, there is no denying that his production made him one of Denver’s biggest family name calling over the past decade.
But there was a point when Thomas coming to Denver at all didn’t seem likely – or a smart move.
When the Broncos listed up with the Patriots in the 2010 NFL draft for the No. 22 pick, their biggest inevitably were quarterback and wide receiver. Still on the board were Dez Bryant, Golden Tate and Rob Gronkowski (tight end). It was a weak QB class behind Sam Bradford (Tim Tebow – we all know how that worked out – and Jimmy Clausen were available), so Denver drafted a wide receiver, but in a shocking decision, it chose Thomas out of Georgia technical school over Oklahoma State’s Bryant.
Former Denver Post newsman microphone Klis wrote at the time:
“In selecting Thomas, and not Dez Bryant, with what turned out to be the No. 22 pick Thursday, the Broncos believe they have found a better version of (former receiver Brandon) Marshall. Better as in better behaved, with a little more down speed.
“I’ve always been around the right crowd,” Thomas aforesaid. “And then I became a Christian. Once I did that, it changed my life. I didn’t want to be that guy they always talked about being a bad guy.”
Thomas was rarely the off-the-field distraction in Denver the way Bryant could be at times in eight seasons with Dallas; though, his involvement in a sexual assault case against former mate Parrish Cox remains a stain on his career. On the field, it besides looks like the Broncos made the right decision.
Thomas’ highs were ne'er what Bryant’s were, and the same go for the lows. He was systematically great and has 1,596 more career receiving yards than Bryant (and 13 less touchdown catches) and did it all with piece only having stability at quarterback for a third of his tenure.
The decision to draft Thomas over Bryant seemed crazy at the time, but with about a decade of understanding at our disposal, it’s clear today Denver made the right choice.
— Matt Stephens, The Denver Post