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How Julius Thomas' night compares to past college hoops NFL converts

By Matt Norlander | College Basketball Writer

Denver's Julius Thomas is the latest NFL convert from the college hoops ranks. (USATSI)
Denver's Julius Thomas is the latest NFL convert from the college hoops ranks. (USATSI)

Former Portland State basketball player Julius Thomas had himself a game Thursday night for the Broncos. The former Vikings forward is currently being vultured on fantasy football waiver wires after his two-touchdown coming-out party in Denver's 49-27 win over defending Super Bowl champs, Baltimore, which included a historic seven-touchdown passing performance from Peyton Manning.

As for Thomas, he's the latest name to come from college basketball's ranks and make something of himself at the pro football level. Though you might not have been familiar with him until last night, Thomas is actually not a rookie -- and did play some football late in his college career. This is his third year; he was sidelined due to injury for all of last season after he hurt himself on the first catch of his first career start, in 2011.

So since it was technically Thomas' second NFL start, I wondered how his performance compared to other hoops-to-NFL converts. In pragmatic terms it was a full-fleged debut, but in fairness to the stats, we're counting it as two games. So how did his first two line up against others who were either primarily college basketball players or dual football/basketball threats in college (defined here by averaging 10 or more minutes per game in hoops)? The list:

Julius Thomas (Portland State): Two touchdowns, six catches for 115 yards
Jimmy Graham (Miami): One touchdown, three catches for 49 yards
Tony Gonzalez (California): Zero touchdowns, 10 catches for 114 yards
Jeff King (Virginia Tech): Zero touchdowns, nine catches for 74 yards
Ronald Curry (UNC): Zero touchdowns, two catches for 20 yards, one fumble
Marcus Pollard (Bradley): Zero touchdowns, one catch for 11 yards
Antonio Gates (Kent State): Zero touchdowns, one catch for 8 yards, a lost fumble

On defense, it's a different scenario, but for fun:

Julius Peppers (North Carolina): Six tackles, three sacks, one forced fumble
Connor Barwin (Cincinnati): Three tackles, one sack

That Peppers guy sure is good, huh? And safe to say we've got at least two Hall-of-Famers on this list in him and Gonzalez, while Gates is probably on his way as well. Meanwhile, Jimmy Graham has a fledgling career of awesome in front of him. Amid all that, it's clear to see and safe to say Thomas had the biggest initial impact. We'll see what he develops into.

And did I miss anyone? Shoot me a message in the comments or on Twitter and I'll add them to the list.

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