Just like Virginia Tech’s fan base, there’s a segment of NFL scouts who aren’t sold on Logan Thomas‘ potential at the next level, but according to ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay, there are still plenty who think highly of the Hokies’ senior quarterback.
McShay said on a Tuesday conference call that opinions are still mixed on the 6-foot-6, 250-pound Thomas, who has improved his mechanics but, as the Duke game showed, is still putting up pedestrian numbers, with 1,665 passing yards, a 55.2 completion percentage and nine touchdowns to 10 interceptions this season.
“I’ve talked to two scouts who still think that he belongs in the first two rounds of the draft,” McShay said. “And I’ve talked to other scouts that have late-round grades on him. And there are a bunch of guys in between.
“His potential is outstanding but it will be interesting to see where a team is willing to gamble, if you will, on that potential. You don’t find many guys with that blend of height, weight, speed, athleticism and competitiveness. He has great intangibles.”
McShay praised new offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler for his work with Thomas, reiterating his position — and saying that he “got in trouble” last year for saying — that last season’s offense was “predictable” and “not conducive” to Thomas’ skills.
“I think his mechanics are better,” McShay said. “I think Scot has come in and done a really nice job of simplifying things, showing him what he needs to do mechanically, working on those things and making that the focus. And not trying to do too much or ask too much of him. And it seems to be working.”
McShay noted that the Hokies’ supporting cast hasn’t been great this year, which factors into his assessment.
“There are a lot of quarterbacks out there who have receivers that are making more plays, dropping fewer passes,” McShay said. “That’s very obvious when you study the tape. Does that mean some of it’s not Logan’s fault? No. As most quarterbacks do, he’s taking on a lot of water because of everything going on around him.”
The key in the draft for Thomas might be finding a team that’s patient.
“It’s just a question of a team being in a position to draft him and develop him and not being in a rush to get him on the field,” McShay said. “And I think probably when it’s all said and done, it wouldn’t surprise at all if he’s still somewhere in that Day 2 range.”
McShay said he had cornerback Antone Exum with a third-round grade coming into the year but will have to revisit that once the senior is further removed from offseason ACL and bone fracture surgery. Exum made his season debut last week against Duke.
“For now, it’s seeing what he can do from the field from this point on and seeing if he regains confidence and is playing at that same level,” he said. “And there’s probably going to be some rust when you go back and play all the tape, but the thing you’re looking for is progression from when he returns from the injury to the end of the season.”
McShay called Exum good in run support, a “violent” player on the edge who can get off blocks. He said the senior has average to above average ball skills but not elite speed.
“So if he loses any speed and quickness because of the injury, I think that’s where you have a concern,” McShay said. “And that’s where maybe combined with some concerns about durability that he drops a little bit. But I still think somewhere in that third- or fourth-round range is where he fits.”
McShay called defensive end James Gayle a “versatile” athlete on the end of the line who could be a pass-rushing linebacker or 4-3 end in the pros.
“Very quick off the ball,” McShay said. “You can see in that opening game against Alabama the quickness that he showed. … I think that versatility helps him and he has the motor that you look for. Strong versus the run for a guy who’s not the biggest in the world. I think he’s a really good player. He’s got a chance to develop into a starter or at least a consistent contributor at the next level.”
He also gave Gayle a third-round grade coming into the season.