June 10, 2018 2:02:34 PM
Every day from 99 days out (May 25) until kickoff, I'll put up a post telling you how many days until kickoff and breaking down something about the upcoming season related to that number.
Today, since we are 83 days away from kickoff, we take a look at: What to expect for MSU's former No. 83, Jordan Thomas, as he moves on to the pros.
Give Dan Mullen credit for this: He had Jordan Thomas playing the NFL's favorite tight end role in college. Thomas has every reason to be ready to go.
The NFL is a copycat league and everyone is trying to copy Rob Gronkowski (on the field, at least). They want the tight end that can split out to the slot or even to the boundary, run comfortably and get the ball in space; they want tight ends that can also run routes from the box in a traditional tight end alignment, navigating traffic in the box; on occasion they want tight ends who can block, although such assignments are dwindling away. Thomas can definitely do the first two things, as that's about all he was asked to do at MSU; he knew the third was something he had to prove and mentioned focusing on it in his draft prep.
MSU was pretty clear about how it valued him in that kind of role last season: while Farrod Green was used almost entirely as a blocking tight end, ending the season with nine catches, Thomas ended up third on the team with 22 catches, 263 yards and three touchdowns, all of them either third outright or tied for third on the team.
Thomas strikes me as the kind of player that can find a way to the field quickly, even if it's in a small role. Maybe a third-and-long tight end/slot guy, used as a weapon in a particular situation and little more. There's a lot of rookies around the league that would take that in a heartbeat.
Follow Dispatch sports writer Brett Hudson on Twitter @Brett_Hudson