Most NFL minds believed heading into the 2014 NFL draft that Blake Bortles (taken No. 3 overall) had the most long-term potential. No. 2 on the list might be Logan Thomas, a frustrating but intriguing talent out of Virginia Tech, who failed to ever make it all click during his college career.
The Arizona Cardinals saw enough in him to take a chance, drafting Thomas with the 120th-overall pick.
"You watch 25 of his game tapes -- 23 are bad, two are exciting," the NFL Network's Mike Mayock said immediately after the selection was announced. "But I keep saying: Somebody's going to want to put Humpty-Dumpty together again."
For Thomas' sake, few landing spots offer more promise than Arizona, where head coach Bruce Arians carries with him a history of developing quarterbacks. He played a key role, for example, in Ben Roethlisberger's rapid ascension in Pittsburgh. However, Arians also told The Arizona Republic in January that he had no significant plans to address the QB spot in the draft: "I don’t think we can afford to have a guy come in like that. I’m not a believer in a guy learning anything sitting on the bench."
The athletic, 6-foot-6 Thomas may still have to win a roster spot then. Thomas jumped firmly onto the NFL draft radar during his sophomore season with the Hokies, when he helped lead them to a Sugar Bowl berth while throwing for 3,000 yards and rushing for 11 touchdowns. But the progress stopped there; Thomas completed just 51.3 percent of his passes in 2012 and threw 29 combined interceptions over his final two seasons.
"I feel like I have become more accurate, faster, stronger. A little bit of everything," said Thomas at the combine of the work he'd done once the 2013 campaign wrapped. "My biggest problem was I was getting on my tippy-toes, which was causing me to throw high or throw low. Now I set my foot down flat on the ground and it gives me the correct amount of energy I need to produce through my base up through my arm, which allows me to be more accurate."
Should Thomas successfully complete those improvements under Arians' watch, he may have a legitimate opportunity to stick around as a dual-threat quarterback.
Thomas ran a 4.54 40 at the combine and is gifted enough athletically that there was earlier discussion about shifting him to tight end at the next level. Arians (who played at Virginia Tech, by the way) figures to give him a chance at quarterback first, especially because Arians places a high value on blocking ability for his tight ends. Thomas, having not played that position before, would be well behind the curve in that area.
Also interesting here: Thomas came off the board before more proven QBs like the SEC trio of A.J. McCarron, Aaron Murray and Zach Mettenberger. Any of those prospects could battle for a No. 2 gig out of the gate, whereas Thomas probably will have to be stashed deeper down the depth chart until at least 2015.
"I don’t know how many of them have a 'wow' factor, but there are some really, really good ones, guys that are going to play in the league for a long time," Arians said last month of this year's QB class. "I don’t see an Andrew Luck, a Ben Roethlisberger or Peyton Manning, but I do see some guys that are very capable of playing."
Not surprisingly given that breakdown, the Cardinals opted not to nab a QB early, despite rumors that they may be interested in someone like Derek Carr.
Thomas' potential kept him in the draft mix later on in the weekend. He'll get his shot with the Cardinals.
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