How Much Should Logan Thomas' Early Showings Concern NFL Scouts?
The NFL season is only a week old, but there are at least a handful of teams that are already wondering which quarterback they will have a chance to take in the first round.
Virginia Tech's Logan Thomas might top the list for some teams because he's 6'6" 260 pounds with good athleticism and great natural arm strength. Thomas has a limited body of work, with only one year as the starter under his belt, so the redshirt junior's performances are going to be under the microscope, as teams that are likely to choose early in the draft narrow down their list of targets. Thomas hasn't had a command performance in two games against Austin Peay and a banged-up Georgia Tech defense.
Are there reasons for the scouts to start doubt Thomas' worth after these games?
Thomas has only completed 59 percent of his passes after completing 59.8 percent last year. This is particularly troubling because he plays in a pass offense with lots of simple reads and quick, short throws.
In the game vs. Georgia Tech, Thomas missed badly on many throws outside of the numbers, even short throws. He had a few throws to no one in particular, and let the pressure get to him on another miss. Thomas made a few excellent throws into the middle of the field, but, overall, you have to say that he is not a very accurate passer. The numbers do not lie.
Perhaps his worst miss of the night came on the game's first play, a play action pass that allowed Thomas a totally clean set-up to throw downfield...
...to his top receiver Marcus Davis, who was wide open.
Thomas underthrew the ball, and Davis' height advantage was wasted as the cornerback was able to break up the ball when Davis slowed to try to make a play on it:
Thomas is athletic for such a huge quarterback, but he is not as athletic as he thinks he is.
He seems to prefer to run the ball to move the offense, but so far this year, he has only mustered 26 yards on his 22 carries. Part of the problem is that Thomas tries to race players that he can not beat. On this zone-read play, Thomas keeps the ball as a linebacker is keying on him:
Thomas tries to beat the linebacker to the edge, and he is tackled for a loss.
Putting aside the reality that Thomas won't be able to run as a staple of the offense in the pros, the bottom line is that he isn't really that dangerous as a runner. This part of his profile will probably be overrated by the media but not by the scouts.
Thomas does not come out looking very good when you examine his game through the lens of being ready for the pro game. His penchant for running and short, quick throws allows the defense to cheat closer to the line of scrimmage as the game goes on and snuff out the plays as they develop. He is generally making single reads and not going through progressions or otherwise scanning the field while he is in the pocket. Thomas is quick to leave the pocket, and he doesn't keep his eyes downfield when he does.
On the plus side, Thomas does execute play fakes very crisply, and his timing with his receivers is generally very good. A few of the building blocks are there, but Thomas is a project at the next level when it comes to NFL-style defense reading and pocket passing.
There were other positives in addition to Thomas's execution of play fakes and timing with his targets. He always throws the ball with good velocity, and Thomas can throw a nice touch pass. In the red zone, he showed terrific patience and dropped the ball into a perfect spot over the linebacker for a touchdown. Most importantly, in the overtime win against Georgia Tech, he showed the ability to play his best football with the game on the line.
Remember that play-action pass deep that Thomas missed? The Hokies went back to it halfway through the fourth quarter down three points. Thomas again has a wide berth set up and throw:
And this time, it results in a touchdown:
Thomas also made one of his best passes of the game to get the team into field-goal range late to pull even after Georgia Tech took the lead again following the long touchdown pass. Thomas played his best when it mattered most, and that is a big part of what being a leader and a winner is all about.
You are going to hear Cam Newton's name mentioned a lot in comparison to Thomas during the spring.
Like Newton, Thomas may go first overall in the draft, but don't let that fool you into thinking that he is the same caliber of prospect. Thomas is not quite as athletic or imposing as Newton with the ball in his hands. He isn't nearly the natural throwing talent that Newton is or was at Auburn. He also doesn't quite elevate his teammates the way Newton did, making the entire offense harder to defend.
Thomas's tools may make him too good to pass up in the top five of the 2013 NFL draft, but he has a long way to go before his game resembles Cam Newton's.
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