Correct me if I'm wrong, but aren't the two players Mel Kiper is comparing Logan Thomas to both Tight Ends? Funny, I don't see comparisons being drawn between Eric Ebron (TE out of North Carolina, projected to be first taken in the draft) and any NFL quarterbacks.
Let's Explore The Perceptions Surrounding The Development Of VT QBs
This tweet just highlights the preposterous nature of this entire Logan Thomas experiment. Virginia Tech under Frank Beamer has operated under a crisis of confidence at the QB position for his entire tenure. Even getting Jim Druckenmiller drafted in the first round; and Michael Vick drafted number one overall didn't dispel his "inferiority complex" regarding how he is perceived as having built his program on ONLY the strength on Defense and Special Teams, and that he is strategically challenged on the offensive side of the football.
The quarterbacks who recognize success in the program are not often coveted by the NFL, because the system(s) Virginia Tech runs are not compatible with those that are presently being used in the pros. And because, as the whispers tell it, the respect for the Football IQ of a VT quarterback product is often regarded as developmentally delayed. Druckenmiller and Vick did not help refute these notions.
I sympathize with Beamer. He is stuck between a rock and a hard place. He has to convince top-flight quarterback recruits to attend VT somehow, and to do this he needs to be able to assure them that he can prepare them for the pros, and potentially a big payday on draft day. You say, well aren't Druckenmiller and Vick proof positive that he CAN do this? Well, yes and no.
While it's true that those two did get drafted in the first round, anyone advising the potential recruit would say: Druckenmiller played in a system that VT no longer uses, and he was utterly unprepared to deal with the NFL playbooks when he arrived. And the adviser can ask the recruit: Do you run a 4.25 40 yard dash like Mike Vick, and can you throw the ball 75 yards in the air across your body? If the recruit says no, then you can see how the conversation ends there.
Because the reality is, that Maurice DeShazo, Al Clark, Bryan Randall, Marcus Vick, Sean Glennon, and Grant Noel are more the rule for VT Football, and Druckenmiller and Vick unique exceptions. It is a very tough sell to any quarterback who hopes to make it to the NFL one day, that they can get the requisite attention in such a passing attack. And VT's offensive reputation among NFL draft personnel certainly hurt Tyrod Taylor, who found himself unfairly lumped in with the larger group, as opposed to being viewed as a potential game-changer with tremendous makeup.
Taylor still awaits his chance, having proven he is more than capable of absorbing and applying the concepts contained in the Baltimore Ravens playbook. Unfortunately, he awaits his chance while earning a paycheck that is less than it should be. Nobody will ever be able to convince me Tyrod didn't deserve to go in the top three rounds. His combine numbers were good, and he had a nice body of work at VT that was achieved in spite of the numbskullery of Bryan Stinespring's offensive playcalling.
Because Stinespring and Mike O Cain were simply not up to task, Beamer found recruiting the position difficult and lost out on a few key targets that might have replaced Taylor. But with Logan Thomas displaying a huge arm and the carriage necessary to lead a team, Dr Beamerstein went into the lab and had a EUREKA! moment. Cam Newton had just been drafted and their physical attributes were similar. Beamer thought: perhaps this is my golden ticket!
The rest is history, very disappointing mediocre history. After leading the Hokies to an 11-2 record (we won that Michigan Sugar Bowl $&#!) in 2011, Logan lost his top RB to the NFL's 1st round in David Wilson and lost a pair of school record-breaking Wide Receivers in Jarrett Boykin and Danny Coale. Tech never replaced these playmakers and Thomas slogged through a 15-11 record over his final two years, never to again reach the heights we caught a brief glimpse of here:
Thomas showed flashes every game, but rarely put the complete game together, save for the Miami tilts, who he saved his very best for. While in school he was never able to best Tajh Boyd as Clemson got the best of the Hokies three times; and Virginia Beach product EJ Manuel went on to become a key factor in revitalizing the Free Seafood University football program before getting drafted 16th overall by Buffalo in the 2013 draft. While those two were likely never coming to Blacksburg, it just highlights the deficit we were operating at creating a QB from relative scratch once Chesapeake-area recruit Kevin Newsome took his talents to the Big 10 (11? 14? Whatever). All of those names were in-state products like Thomas, and none seriously considered VT as an attractive option.
Let's Talk Draft Now, You're Done Crying Over Spilled Milk
But enough of the sour grapes about Logan's VT tenure, which I completely deluded myself into supporting for far too long. Let's discuss the NFL prospects for Logan. I consider him to be a wonderful prospect....primarily at Tight End. And while he will be drafted at QB, it is my hope that he realizes he can make a far greater impact in the league at TE and follows that path.
As evidenced in the tweet above and in my February article about the combine, Logan's measurables are TREMENDOUS. But is he really that fast? He was more of a rumbler when carrying the ball. We can essentially dispense with the Cam Newton comparisons right there. Examine the speed Cam exhibits here as he pulls away from DBs in the open field:
By contrast let's examine Logan's forays into the secondary. Funny, there aren't many, aside from one hole vs Miami in 2011 you could have drove an 18-wheeler through, when he went 73 yards. Instead, this is the type of run we came to expect, and NFL personnel men should expect nothing different once he reaches the pros:
While Logan could run over defenders with his 260 lb frame, he often looked like a bull in a china shop, bucking around the right end on keepers and eating up three yards here, four yards there. His first year at the helm, he had an impressive run of 20+ straight 3rd and short conversion runs, but as the offensive line began to struggle in his second and third years, his push alone was not enough to pick up those first downs any longer; especially considering the defense had a good idea what was coming. Often his decision making on the keepers looked a bit delayed, and holes would close up on him.
As you saw above, Logan can deliver the punishment. But he is also extremely durable while standing up to pass rush in the pocket, as Georgia Tech's Jeremiah Attaochu can attest:
While Logan's refusal to go down on this play was admirable, and a key to that victory, this is not the kind of play NFL GMs envision him needing to make with any type of regularity, nor do they want him to. What they are looking for is rapid decision-making ability and the ability to self-preserve. Which is a disconnect documented all too well in the Robert Griffin III saga here in Washington DC.
And plays like this one below have everyone wincing at poor decision making and a lack of inclination to self-preserve:
Just look at how he opens himself up to take that hit. Not wise at all, for a minor gain. And to me it was it was almost too poetic in terms of how that capped his VT career. Showing off the tools on one series, and giving cause for consternation on the very next.
Can He Make The Throws?
OK, so he's no burner, but he runs pretty fast for his size and he can take a hit. But what about the throws? As a QB can he make all the throws? To be curt, no he cannot. He has been working with quarterback "guru" (and man do I feel dirty for using it here) George Whitfield Jr. out in SoCal and per George Whitfield Jr:
Logan Thomas is going to #ShockTheWorld #HappyDraftDay #NFLDraft2014 pic.twitter.com/fdKbMsnALJ— Whitfield Athletix (@WhitAthletix) May 8, 2014
Honestly though what else is he supposed to say at this point? For me it's difficult to say how effective Whitfield is in working with QBs. He attaches himself to some pretty completed projects and takes a lot of extra credit for things that might have come to his clients organically in the first place. This article by Bruce Feldman states that his body of work with prep prospects isn't so "glowing". With combine numbers that were just fantastic, it's up to Logan to convince scouts that he can make the throws. Because if they refer to the tape they see this:
Yeah. Four picks in a HOME loss to Dook. When evaluating QBs you have to take into account both their ceiling and floor. If this is the floor, then there are miles of work to be done before you could classify him as a completed project. Which is why he went from being hailed as the next Cam Newton and a likely first round choice following his 2011 campaign to mid-late round project following his senior year.
The developmental concerns in going from a red-shirt sophomore who exhibited such poise and leadership to a shaky, somewhat defensive senior have been cataloged the world over. The ESPN look-in at summer camp showed Thomas having an inordinate amount of difficulty throwing intermediate out patterns, check out starting after the 18:40 mark:
You can see the frustration on Wide Receiver Aaron Moorehead's face as he takes Beamer's constructive criticism about WRs catching with their hands and away from the body. If someone would just stopping bouncing those passes, maybe they would be able to utilize proper technique.
So Now That We've Established That Logan Is Still A Diamond In The Rough, Where Does He Get Drafted?
Who knows? Just what you read this far to read right?
There have been murmurs that he could go late in the 2nd round, and there have been projections of him going as late as the 5th. He has the strongest arm of all the QBs in the draft, and is still being thought of as one of the most intriguing prospects in the draft, even more advanced at this point than Cam Newton. It appears that folks are actually holding VT against him in a beneficial way this time around, which goes against the grain of the history I quoted you above. It appears that NFL scouts view him as malleable, and feel that all his bad habits can be worked out in the right system.
The hedge bet here is that those teams that are thinking of him as a 2nd round pick will see what he has to offer at QB, but deep down they know he could be split out wide and catching passes for them in the event that the QB gambit fails. Those that draft him later see him exclusively at QB in their plans, and would be excited to have an overall athlete of his caliber developing his skills for the future.
For my inflation-adjusted two cents, I am of the opinion that you only take Logan in the 2nd round if you plan on him playing relatively soon, in one capacity or the other. At QB, I don't believe he's ready to do much beyond run the practice squads for a while, certainly not step in immediately and carry the clipboard as a number two.
Everyone loves a big, mobile athlete taking snaps. One who can see the field and has the arm for the throws. But as we all saw from the Alabama opener all the way through the Sun Bowl, while he has the arm for those throws, he doesn't exhibit patience, look defenders off well, or make the touch throws with any natural ease. But if you need the 20 yard seam route, nobody looks prettier.
This may have read like I'm negative on Logan, but that couldn't be further from the truth. I'm just negative on the universal tug-of-war that has surrounded him for four years now, and it's a stalemate, with no one side getting pulled into the mud. He is a jack of all trades and master of none at this point. And I hope that whatever situation he finds himself in come Monday, that he will be able to shake free from the clutches of negativity that we've foisted upon him as an over-expectant fan base.
But just so you know, I look at this video below and I see the future of Logan Thomas:
Enjoy the weather and the draft everyone! We'll back later with our final pre-draft profile on Antone Exum, and we'll continue with draft coverage over the weekend so you can see where all our Hokies end up! Let us know below in the comments where you think Logan might be a good fit.