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Logan Thomas Cardinals' New QB Project

Posted May 10, 2014

In fourth round, Arians gets big-armed Virginia Tech passer to mold

The Cardinals went with quarterback Logan Thomas as a quarterback project in the fourth round of the draft.

Logan Thomas is anything but a lock to eventually turn into a long-term starting quarterback for the Cardinals.

On the final day of the NFL draft, though, that’s basically the point.

“When you are convinced you have the franchise quarterback, you take him in the first round,” General Manager Steve Keim said. “If you think a guy can be a franchise quarterback, you take a chance later in the draft.”

There was only one quarterback Keim thought fit that first-round bill. He wouldn’t say who, although Blake Bortles was the only quarterback taken before the Cardinals were on the clock with their first pick. From there, it was about taking that chance – which came Saturday morning with a fourth-round selection of Thomas.

Thomas is specimen you would draw up for a perfect QB. The Virginia Tech product stands 6-foot-6, weighing 250 pounds. He can run, with a 4.61-second 40 time. He has, with due respect to Peyton Manning’s one-time commercial, a laser-rocket right arm, with Cardinals coach Bruce Arians saying it’s the best arm he’s seen the last decade.

Yet Thomas is a gamble, questionable to translate his game to the NFL thanks in large part to lingering accuracy issues. Even he understands the skeptics.

“Everybody is basing it on the season, and I understand that’s what’s on film,” Thomas said. “But this offseason was the chance to really be able to refine some things and I feel really, really good about it.”

Thomas’ development will be one of the Cards’ most intriguing storylines of the year, even though he is unlikely to ever play in 2014. Carson Palmer is the starting quarterback and Arians said the No. 2 spot manned by Drew Stanton “ain’t changing.” That leaves Thomas to battle with third-stringer Ryan Lindley, and Arians insisted that was no sure win for Thomas.

Then again, Arians said Friday night he was happy with his current three quarterbacks and that the Cards probably wouldn’t select a QB – only to open Saturday’s picks with Thomas.

“I lie pretty good,” Arians said with a grin.

He needed to lie because he was concerned some other team would take Thomas before the Cards were on the clock. Arians said he knew of two teams ready to take Thomas picked soon after the Cardinals. In the end, it wasn’t a problem.

“When you are talking about a developmental quarterback, and in these rounds that’s what they all are, you want a guy who’s got all the tools,” Arians said. “Outstanding intangibles, one of those guys everyone gravitates to.

“Now, is he ready to play? No.”

“You can check all the boxes,” Keim added. “Now it is up to him whether he pans out and develops.”

Thomas completed just 55.6 percent of his passes in four seasons in Blacksburg, with 53 touchdowns and 39 interceptions. As a senior, he had 16 TD passes and 13 interceptions, completing 56 percent of his passes for 2,907 yards. His best season statistically as a passer was 2011 when he completed nearly 60 percent of his throws.

Some think he could be a better tight end in the NFL. It’s a position he came to Virginia Tech to play, and he actually resisted the idea of playing quarterback at first. That has changed.

“When (teams) asked me questions about (playing tight end), I was like, ‘Look, I’m a quarterback first. That’s what I want to be,’ ” Thomas said. “That’s what I’m going to be. I understand if you want a package or two that I play two or three plays a game when I’m backing somebody up and learning, if that’s what you want. But I really want to be a quarterback solely.”

Arians agreed, saying Thomas would be a quarterback. Arians took part personally in the workout the Cardinals put Thomas through at Virginia Tech back in March. Arians said Thomas was hurt by coordinator changes and a lack of offensive talent in college, and called his accuracy issues “easily correctable” with better footwork.

Thomas’ offseason has been guided with quarterback coaching guru George Whitfield, the same man who coached Cam Newton, Andrew Luck and Johnny Manziel in their preparations before their drafts. His footwork has been at the forefront of that process, along with adding touch on the passes coming from his big right arm.

Thomas said he was hoping to come to Arizona. He liked his interaction with Arians and quarterbacks coach Freddie Kitchens during his workout, and he likes Arians’ history with working with quarterbacks like Ben Roethlisberger, who has similar physical traits.

“It kind of shows he’s willing to work with a guy and build him up and create him pretty much a monster in the way they play football,” Thomas said. “I couldn’t have gone into a better situation.”

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