ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. not completely closing the door on Logan Thomas as a potential first-round pick
ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. isn’t enamored with the quarterback class this season. Asked who could be the first QB off the board in April’s NFL Draft, he said it wouldn’t surprise him if N.C. State’s Mike Glennon made the leap to the top of the group.
It’s why he’s not completely closing the door on Virginia Tech’s Logan Thomas having the potential to be a first-round pick if he chooses to go pro.
Kiper, who has praised Thomas’ skill set in the past, did so again in a conference call Tuesday, saying the junior quarterback’s physical talents override what has been a less-than-stellar season in which he threw for 2,783 yards, 17 touchdowns and 14 interceptions to go along with 528 rushing yards and nine more scores.
“The guy was expected to be a tight end when he came there, so he’s still a little rough around the edges,” Kiper said. “But when you look at the talent, he’s more talented than any quarterback that’s going to be in this draft. You take any quarterback — I don’t care who it is — he’s more talented. So I think just on potential, he could be a guy that factors into the equation.”
Kiper projected Thomas as a top-five pick before the season but has since dropped him off his Big Board of the top 25 players. But he can’t ignore the 6-foot-6, 250-pound frame and big arm.
“That’s the thing you just have to always factor in,” Kiper said. “Is he out of the first round completely? I can never just move out of the first round completely anybody with his size and his arm and his athletic ability. You can coach him up in the NFL and there’s a lot to work with there. He’s the kind of guy who needs a quarterback coach, needs to work on some things.”
Thomas has said several times that he intends on coming back for his senior season, although he plans on getting feedback for the NFL Draft Advisory Board, which, if the player requests it, scouts underclassmen and gives each player a grade of what round they might be selected in.
In a draft class lacking the top-tiered quarterbacks of past seasons, size and arm strength obviously are a big consideration if Glennon, a 6-foot-6 senior who threw for 3,648 yards, 30 touchdowns and 14 interceptions this season, could be the top quarterback off the board. Kiper admitted it was a “curveball” to have Glennon possibly ahead of consensus preseason picks Matt Barkley of Southern California and Geno Smith of West Virginia, but says it’s a possibility.
“He’s got the size, he’s got the arm, he’s has the mobility within the framework of the pocket, maneuverability within the pocket,” Kiper said. “He didn’t have a great supporting cast around him. He’s going to be in the Senior Bowl, as will some of these other quarterbacks, so that’s going to be an important week down in Mobile.”
Kiper also thinks it would be wise for Virginia Tech defensive end James Gayle to come back for his senior season, citing a high number of defensive ends and pass-rushing outside linebackers who will be in this year’s draft. Gayle had 40 tackles, 10 tackles for a loss and five sacks. That last figure is down from the seven he had last year.
“Again, not a guaranteed first-round pick. If you’re not, then you should go back,” Kiper said. “If I’m James Gayle, I’m going to think about another year at Virginia Tech and put up good numbers and be a dominant pass rusher I think will help his cause.”