Denver, CO. One of the most memorable moments in Denver Broncos history occurred seven months ago, a lasting image that will be remembered for many decades to come. It’s a play that stunned everyone who was watching the Broncos home playoff game vs Pittsburgh, and 80 yards later, Denver had defeated the Steelers in unbelievable fashion. The connection from Tim Tebow to Demaryius Thomas on the very first play that the Broncos ran in overtime will go down as one of the greatest single plays in the history of the franchise. It catapulted Denver into a divisional round matchup against the Patriots and continued one of the craziest seasons in recent NFL history. For Thomas, that one play showed why he was taken in the first round of the 2010 draft, ahead of guys like Dez Bryant and Rob Gronkowski. It legitimized what so many people saw when he left Georgia Tech to become a pro, and showed millions of football fans what he could soon be….a superstar wide receiver in the National Football League.
Demaryius Thomas has all the raw attributes any team would want out of a wide receiver. He has great size, at 6’3″ and 230 lbs. He can also run like a deer, like he did on that game-winning catch against the Steelers. He is very strong, with the ability to shed tacklers and rack up yards after the catch. As far as his NFL “ceiling” is concerned, he can truly be one of the best receivers in the league, and it will ultimately be up to him to do so. In his first two years in Denver, it has been a mixed bag….some jaw-dropping plays that have shown his pure athleticism, some routine passes in his direction that were dropped, and a bunch of time on the sidelines due to injury. He has shown a propensity to get banged up fairly easily, and his durability is still in question. After somewhat of a breakout year in 2011, 2012 is going to reveal who Demaryius really is, and where he plans on taking his career. Catching passes from Kyle Orton and Tim Tebow is one thing, but now that Peyton Manning is running the show, everything is ratcheted up a few notches on offense. Manning demands perfection from his teammates, especially the ones who protect him and the ones who he is throwing to. The receivers must run precise routes and be extremely disciplined on every play. One thing is going to be for sure in Denver, and that is Peyton will know exactly where his intended targets will need to be and when to be there as well. If his receiver is lazy with his routes or doesn’t give it his all on every down, the odds that he will get a tongue-lashing from Peyton is quite high. Early on this season, Thomas is going to have to prove that he will do everything necessary to take his game to new levels. Demaryius is still very young, and he has gotten by so far on pure talent alone. But now, expectations are different, and if he wants the ball, he must play by Peyton’s rules. Simply put, the hardest working and most reliable receivers will get more chances and as a result, more looks from #18. It was that way in Indianapolis, and it would be naive to think it wouldn’t be that way now in Denver.
Demaryius Thomas won’t be 25 years old until Christmas day. He is still a pup as far as NFL players are concerned. But one thing that hopefully he does realize, is that he now has a rare opportunity to be a starting wide receiver on an offense led by one of the best QB’s of all-time. For Demaryius, the time to grow up and be great is now. If he can elevate his game, stay healthy, and focus on doing everything it takes in this offense, a huge year could be on the horizon for #88.
Denver Sports by J Simp