Ian Hartitz from Land-Grant Holy Land answered a few questions about both of the New Orleans Saints selections in the second round of the 2016 NFL Draft - Wide Receiver Mike Thomas & Safety Vonn Bell.
So let's tackle WR Mike Thomas who went 47th overall. Did you expect Thomas to go off the board earlier or later the middle of the second round to the Saints?
While some saw Thomas as potentially the number one receiver in the draft, the middle of the 2nd round is actually a pretty accurate spot and was in line with most expectations. Thomas has shown to have all the ability in the world, but has very real question marks regarding his lack of production compared to other top receivers and his limited route tree. Yes, both of these are simply consequences of playing in an offense as talented as Ohio State's, but in a class that also seemed to place a premium on straight line speed, mid-2nd round is just about right for Mike.
Could you give a very brief scouting report on Thomas?
That being said, what are your expectations for Thomas in a Drew Brees-led offense?
Thomas should expect to be Drew Brees' go-to receiving target as early as next season. The Saints have speed with Brandin Cooks and Willie Snead, but Thomas is a bigger target in the mold of Marques Colston that should have Brees salivating. It might take Thomas a year or so to get the Sean Payton playbook down, but if he can figure things out mentally, look for Thomas to feast as arguably the most talented receiver New Orleans has ever brought in for Brees.
That's exciting! Same question for Safety Vonn Bell: did you expect Bell to go earlier or later than 61st overall?
Vonn Bell was a player who came into Ohio State with sky high expectations as the "crown jewel" of the now famous 2013 recruiting class, and Bell really delivered as a playmaking safety who, despite not being a big hitter, was also a sure tackler. For this reason it was surprising to see Bell nearly fall to the third round. Some questions have arisen regarding Bell's self-admitted lackadaisical attitude towards defending the run game, but in the NFL defenders with elite ball skills are typically prized assets. Bell proved over and over again that he can cover the whole field and make plays in the secondary, so as long as the Saints can get a high level of play-by-play effort from Bell, look for the Bell/Kenny Vacarro combination to be one of the best safety combos in the league.
Do you have a similar scouting report on Bell?
Playmaking (8 interceptions in two years) safety with great range and ball skills. While he won't deliver the bone crushing hits that some expect from safeties, Bell is a reliable wrap-up tackler who can play in the box.
If he won't deliver those hits and is more of a "wrap-up tackler", how do you expect Bell to fair in the physicality of the NFL?
While Bell played quite a bit of strong safety at Ohio State, he switched seamlessly with fellow safety Tyvis Powell from playing the deep center-field position to rolling up into the box. In a more physical and pass-happy NFL, the expectation is that Bell will utilize his range and coverage skills more than his tackling, as only being 5'11 200 lbs will make it tough to consistently play up close against any NFL running game. But Bell can do more than just play cover one, as his man coverage skills are elite for a safety. These overall coverage skills, combined with sure tackling, will make Bell an immediate nickel corner candidate in New Orleans before he breaks through as a starting safety.
Any final thoughts for Saints fans?
New Orleans got what some considered the best wide receiver and best safety (excluding Jalen Ramsey) in the draft. Mike Thomas made plays whenever he got a chance, and there's no reason to believe he won't be able to turn more opportunities into more great plays at the next level. Vonn Bell is the versatile secondary option that all NFL defenses covet nowadays, and if he continues his habit of rising to the occasion in big games, look for Bell to be a major asset in a division with Matt Ryan, Cam Newton and Jameis Winston.
Thank-you, Ian and Land-Grant Holy Land for answering our questions. You've definitely made us Saints fans excited about these two young players. Who Dat Nation: Make sure you give Land-Grant Holy Land a follow on Twitter @LandGrant33.