ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. says despite down year, QB Logan Thomas still in NFL draft’s ‘first-round discussion’
Logan Thomas‘ draft stock might not be where it was following last season, but ESPN analyst Mel Kiper Jr. said on a Wednesday teleconference that Virginia Tech’s junior quarterback still has the potential to be a first-round pick in next spring’s NFL draft if he goes pro.
Kiper, who listed Thomas as one of his top five players in the 2013 draft class before the season, acknowledged that the quarterback has fallen out of that discussion because of his erratic play this season.
But he maintains that Thomas has the physical skills that NFL teams will be looking for in a quarterback and his stock hasn’t fallen too dramatically, especially since his competition at the position — USC’s Matt Barkley, Oklahoma’s Landry Jones, Arkansas’ Tyler Wilson, West Virginia’s Geno Smith among others – haven’t had great years either.
“He’s got physical gifts that nobody else has,” Kiper said. “So I think in a quarterback year where there are a lot of question marks … it’s a year where he probably still would be, if he comes out, evaluated fairly highly.
“I think he could still be in the first-round discussion, just because he has things that nobody else has. Which are things that you can’t coach, can’t teach. Which is the great size, physicality, arm strength and all that, mobility. He would be a guy a quarterback coach would have to work with and tweak some things, but as far as potential, he has the most.”
Kiper said Thomas, who has thrown for 2,407 yards and 14 touchdowns but also 14 interceptions, has made “some bad decisions, some inaccurate throws, some mistakes at crucial times,” but added that it’s not all on him, since the offensive line has struggled, the running game hasn’t produced much and the receivers haven’t been consistent.
“But at the end of the day, you need to make plays and you need to make accurate throws and you need to make good decisions,” Kiper said. “And that’s something with Logan Thomas where he’s struggled. Again, you can’t blame it all on the quarterback, but as far as maintaining a top-five, top-10 grade, he certainly hasn’t been able to do it. Do I think he can still be a first-round pick? Yes, I do.”
Kiper said the decision Thomas has to make is if he thinks he can come back for his senior year and get back in the discussion for being one of the top overall picks.
“If you feel like you can go back up to the top-five, top-10, then he would be better served to go back to Virginia Tech,” he said. “So I think he has to be aware of where he is projected, and of course the advisory report will help him with that. And if he’s OK with that, you come out. If not, if he wants to go back and try to improve his stock and get back into that No. 1 pick overall category, which he has the physical ability to be at, then you go back to Virginia Tech. So it’ll be interesting to see what his final decision is.”
As far as other Virginia Tech players, Kiper said despite his faults, receiver Marcus Davis still has the physical tools that would have NFL general managers take note.
“There’s inconsistency, not natural catching the ball all the time as you would want,” Kiper said. “But with his size and the way he’ll work out, obviously there are things to like about the kid in terms of what he could be. He could certainly be in that third-round discussion.”
Kiper said junior Antone Exum jumps out at him on defense, for his ability to make plays and his versatility at either a cornerback or a safety.
“He’s the kind of guy who certainly has a chance,” Kiper said.
He also mentioned junior defensive end James Gayle, senior linebacker Bruce Taylor and senior receiver Corey Fuller.
“It’s a case where there are a lot of guys at Virginia Tech to evaluate,” he said. “It’s just that their season has gotten away from them a little bit.”