Denver Broncos’ Demaryius Thomas still working for respect

Credit: Ron Chenoy, USA TODAY Sports

Denver Broncos receiver Demaryius Thomas has achieved a lot in his NFL career.

After battling injuries his first couple seasons in Denver, Thomas has blossomed into one of the best in the league with Peyton Manning throwing him the ball.

But Manning is not the only reason Thomas is a beast on field. Remember, the receiver had some big-time plays with Tim Tebow as his quarterback. Thomas had 32 catches for 551 yards with four TDs in 2011.

He also had one of the most exciting plays in Broncos playoff history in the team’s Wild Card win over the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Now the two-time Pro Bowler heads into the final year of his deal. The Broncos and John Elway have said they want a contract done before the start of training camp. The clock is ticking as camp starts in less than two weeks.

Even with a big-money contract on the horizon, Thomas is still not mentioned among some of the league’s best. And that is crazy. Thomas is in the top-five for receivers in the NFL.

When the NFL Network released its Top 100 players Thomas finished at number 49. Not a bad ranking but some of the receivers ahead of him are questionable at the spots they were ranked.

There were nine receivers ranked about Thomas. Of course Thomas is not on the same level as the Detroit Lions’ Calvin Johnson, the Cincinnati Bengals’ A.J. Green or the Cleveland Browns’ Josh Gordon. Gordon has plenty of problems with the league so he may not be on the field this season.

Names likes the Bears’ Brandon Marshall and Cardinals’ Larry Fitzgerald appear higher than Thomas. Both are great talents but Thomas is pretty close to their level.

Thomas will always be compared to the Cowboys’ Dez Bryant. Both were drafted the same year and many experts thought the Broncos should have taken Bryant instead of Thomas.

Bryant has higher numbers in receptions, yards and touchdowns but did not deal with the injuries that Thomas did early in his career. Bryant has been to only one Pro Bowl.

Thomas has played in the postseason three times while Bryant is still looking for his first trip to the playoffs.

There are two players ahead of Thomas that really seem baffling. The Bucs’ Vincent Jackson and the Steelers’ Antonio Brown rank above the Broncos receiver. Both are puzzling.

Jackson has had over 1,000 yards receiving last season on a bad Bucs team. He had a high yards per catch average of 15.7 but only had 78 catches. There were plenty of quarterback problems in Tampa Bay last season.

Brown had a breakout season with 110 catches and 1,499 yards for the Steelers. He has big play written all over him. But Brown really has never done this before and was ranked at No. 23. That seemed really high.

Both Brown and Jackson are talented receivers but they put up the same numbers at Thomas and Thomas does it on a better team. Thomas has plenty of talent around him and still puts up numbers. Brown and Jackson are clear cut No. 1 options for their teams.

This list is totally subjective and is voted on by the players. Players may think Thomas is a product of having Manning throw him the ball. That is far from the truth. He had good numbers with Tebow and if the Broncos sign him long term, he will probably have good numbers with the next quarterback.

The Broncos want to give Thomas the contract they think he deserves. Denver going to pay him like a top flight receiver. Maybe the contract will wake people up to the talent of Thomas.

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