TEMPE, Ariz. — According to most draft analysts and experts, the Arizona Cardinals drafted an impressive specimen in Logan Thomas.
If only they can teach him to play quarterback.
A three-year starter at Virginia Tech, Thomas finished his college career having completed 55.56 percent of his passes for 9,003 yards with 53 touchdowns and 39 interceptions. He also ran for 1,359 yards and 24 touchdowns.
When he’s right, Thomas offers a team a big arm along with the increasingly important ability to run with the football. But if he had been right more often, there’s no way he would have been available when the Cardinals were on the clock in the fourth round with the 120th pick in the draft.
No one questions the athletic ability the 6-foot-6, 250-pounder possesses. After all, he was recruited to Blacksburg as an “athlete” who had spent time as a tight end, receiver and defensive back as well as quarterback in high school.
But it takes more than athleticism to play quarterback, and his continued adjustment to becoming a consistent passer is a reason most consider him to be a project who needs a lot of work.
“I think I’m a lot more ready than people think,” Thomas said Friday at the team’s Tempe training facility. “I think people label me as a project simply off of stats, which I can understand what they see, what they think, but I don’t think I have as much as people — when you think of a project, you think of building something from the ground up.
“I feel like I have a basis, it’s just a few things I’ve got to get down. Everybody’s got something to work on, but I don’t think mine’s as crazy as people are trying to make it out to be.”
The Cardinals are clearly banking on that being the case, and them being right will ultimately determine if Thomas becomes their long-term answer at quarterback or just another in a growing line of late-round picks who couldn’t make it.
Not surprisingly, Thomas doesn’t believe that’s what’s in store for himself.
Discussing his accuracy, which seems to be the most pressing concern anyone has of him, the QB said it’s something he can correct.
“Accuracy is one of the big, key components of playing quarterback, but I don’t think it’s because I’m not accurate,” he said. “I think it’s just because I put myself in bad positions to be accurate.”
Part of it is about his footwork, Thomas said, which is something he’s been working to address.
To help correct that issue, along with any others he may have, Thomas has spent his offseason working with renowned quarterback guru George Whitfield Jr., who has also worked with the likes of Cam Newton, Andrew Luck, E.J. Manuel and Johnny Manziel. The hope is that his tutelage, along with that of Cardinals coach Bruce Arians and assistant Tom Moore, can help transform Thomas from a great athlete playing quarterback into a quarterback who is also a great athlete.
To get there Thomas will have to break some bad habits that he has formed over the years, but noted that the way to do that is with plenty of repetition. That process started as soon as Virginia Tech’s season ended, and it’s gotten the QB to a point where he is confident that he’s already an improved passer from what people have seen in the past.
But for Thomas, the past is mostly irrelevant. He was picked largely because of what he could be in the future, and one of the benefits to him coming to Arizona is he doesn’t have to be ready this season. Carson Palmer is the team’s starter and Drew Stanton is the backup, leaving Thomas to battle with former sixth-round pick Ryan Lindley for the third spot. It would be a bit of an upset if Thomas didn’t win the job, but the message has been clear since the day he was drafted: Thomas will have to earn whatever it is he gets.
The 22-year-old appears fine with that. He has been learning as much as he could from the team’s other quarterbacks, all of whom he praised for their willingness to work with and teach him. Because while he is confident in his ability and would love to be able to play this season, Thomas understands that may not be what the team has in mind.
“I don’t really have a set timetable; obviously I’d love to be ready to go at the drop of a hat starting this season,” he said. “Realistic? Maybe it’s not realistic, whatever it may be. But that’s the goal I’m working toward. Anything happens to Carson, Drew, Ryan — whatever it may be, wherever I wind up in August. But the goal is to be able to be called upon and them to have faith in me at the drop of a hat.”