Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports noted the selection of the three-year Hokies starter:
Now, Bruce Arians and Tom Moore will have a potential quarterback-of-the-future project to groom as Carson Palmer's time comes to a close.
Thomas is an interesting prospect. Three years ago, in his first season as the starter at Virginia Tech, he looked like a future top draft pick. He completed nearly 60 percent of his passes for over 3,000 yards with 19 passing touchdowns and 10 interceptions. He also added 11 rushing touchdowns.
Between those terrific stats for a first-year starter and his combination of size (6'6", 248 pounds) and athleticism, it once seemed the sky was the limit for Thomas. Instead, he was unable to make any further progress and actually took several steps in the wrong direction.
The Virginia native had 34 passing touchdowns and 29 interceptions over his final two years with the Hokies. He also saw his rushing touchdown total drop to nine in 2012 and then to four in 2013.
In turn, the hype that surrounded him after his breakout sophomore campaign faded and never recovered due to questionable accuracy and decision-making ability.
The contrast between that early success and the lackluster results that followed led to a lot of question marks surrounding his draft stock. Back in March, Thomas told Mike Barber of the Richmond Times-Dispatch that he heard a wide range of possibilities:
Although the very early rounds were always an extreme long shot, Adam Caplan of ESPN noted he was higher on draft boards than general consensus suggested leading up to the draft:
The lack of certainty around him as a prospect illustrated the difficult nature of draft evaluation. Teams had to decide whether to rate him based on his physical tools, upside and flashes of great play or the generally average performance of the last two seasons.
He did help his cause at the NFL Scouting Combine, where he ranked among the top performers at his position in all of the athletic drills. It didn't answer all the questions teams had, but it was enough to restart the buzz around his draft stock.
Another factor to keep in mind is that some teams didn't view him as a quarterback. Bryan Fischer of NFL.com noted several front offices listed him as a tight end, so it may take a couple seasons before he settles into one position or the other.
Ultimately, from a quarterbacking perspective, he's very much a developmental prospect. The tools are there for him to become a starter if the coaching staff is able to work with him to smooth out his mechanics and improve his reading of defenses.
If things don't work out at the quarterback position, that's when it would be time to consider a full-time switch to tight end. His aforementioned size and athleticism make him capable of the switch, but once again, it would take time for him to learn and develop.
The chances of Thomas eventually making an impact are good. It's just not likely to happen right away.
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!