On second thought: Cardinals grab QB Thomas in fourth round
MAY 10, 2014 1:27p ET
TEMPE, Ariz. -- At the conclusion of Day 2 of the NFL Draft on Friday, Cardinals coach Bruce Arians was defiant when asked how he would address fans that wanted the team to pick a quarterback.
"Why?" he asked. "We've got three pretty good ones, and you don't take a quarterback if they're not going to beat the guys out that you have. I know people rate quarterbacks. I've been doing this for a long time, rating quarterbacks. I like ours better."
Turns out that was just a smokescreen. With their fourth-round pick (120th overall) -- their first on Day 3 -- the Cardinals selected Virginia Tech quarterback Logan Thomas, making him the sixth QB taken in the draft.
"I lie pretty good," Arians said Saturday. "I didn’t want anybody jumping in front of us. There were teams calling him to see if anybody else had called yet. It was close with two teams that were going to take him right behind us."
Thomas is 6-foot-6 and 248 pounds, continuing the team's trend of getting longer. He is also a product of Arians' alma mater.
"He's got unbelievable athletic ability and probably the best arm I've worked out in 10 years," Arians said. "Now, is he ready to play? No. There's nothing being handed to this guy. He's not the quarterback of the future until he earns it."
To do that, Thomas will have to work through accuracy and mechanical issues that Arians said are a product of poor footwork, "easily correctable stuff."
NFL.com analyst Mike Mayock had a funny assessment of Thomas, which echoes many nationally.
"When I first saw him, I thought, 'This is a potential first kid picked in the draft.' But he's been very inconsistent. I keep saying somebody is going to want to put Humpty Dumpty back together again, because his skill set is amazing."
The scouting report on Thomas is that he generates easy velocity with a quick, compact release and can make all the throws. He's also durable and hard to bring down, giving the Cardinals an open-field element they don't have with their other QBs.
The weaknesses? Some think he plateaued as a sophomore, as he's been inconsistent ever since. His aforementioned footwork, mechanics and ball placement need work, and he still is developing touch and deep-ball accuracy, although Arians said he throws as pretty a deep ball as Carson Palmer.
"I've grown as a quarterback in this offseason," Thomas said in addressing those criticisms. "Everyone's basing it off of this season, which I understand. That's what's on film, but this offseason was the chance where I was able to really go refine some things."
Thomas has been working on mechanics with QB guru George Whitfield at Whitfield's academy in the San Diego area.
"Just making sure I keep my footwork right and then being able to put a little bit of touch on the ball," Thomas said. "That's really what the quarterback comes down to -- being able throw an accurate ball and letting them run after the catch, getting out of trouble when you need to get out of trouble and making some plays on your feet."
Thomas converted to QB as a junior in high school from wide receiver and defensive back. He also has the ability to play tight end, but Arians emphasized that he is not going to play tight end; he is here to be a quarterback.
Thomas' selection could spell the end of Ryan Lindley's tenure in Arizona, but that competition will play out in OTAs and minicamp. It is unlikely Thomas will see the field this season given the work he needs to do, but that's OK with Thomas, who said he can learn from Palmer.
"Some guys get thrown into the fire right off the start. I have the opportunity to sit back, watch and learn from a guy who's been in the league for a good amount of time and has had a lot of success as well," he said. "Learning at this age is something that anybody needs."
Thomas also expressed excitment to work with Arians, a fit he said felt right from the moment Arians and QBs coach Freddie Kitchens came down to work him out.
"He's willing to work with a guy and build him up and create him into pretty much a monster," Thomas said. "I couldn't have gone into a better situation."
Thomas completed 228 of 403 passes (56.6 percent) last year for the Hokies for 2,909 yards with 16 TDs and 13 interceptions. He set school career records with 694 completions for 9,003 yards and 53 TDs as well as 10,352 yards of total offense, but he also threw 39 interceptions in three seasons. He played for three different offensive coordinators in those seasons, though, which might have contributed to the inconsistency many draft analysts saw.
"It always makes it harder, but being able to pick up the system, it was never really hard," he said. "It was just the personnel part of it."
The Cardinals' fan base was frustrated that the team didn't choose a QB earlier, but general manager Steve Keim said they only believed one QB in this draft (he would not name him) was a definite franchise QB.
"When you're sitting in the fourth through seventh round, if you think you're finding Tom Brady, that's not the case," Keim said. "You're taking a chance and you're looking for redeeming qualities that excite you."
With their remaining two picks, the Cardinals selected Alabama defensive end Ed Stinson in the fifth round and Murray State receiver Walter Powell in the sixth.
Stinson is known for his run defense more than his pass-rushing ability. Keim said that he like Stinson's ability to pursue laterally along the line of scrimmage but that he is unlikely to develop into a high-sack-count pass rusher.
Stinson said he was surprised he dropped as far as he did, but a lingering injury might have contributed to that. Stinson said he had groin surgery in May of 2013 and played the entire season with lingering issues that forced him to skip the Senior Bowl and any workouts at the Scouting Combine.
He only worked out for the Dolphins and at his pro day.
"I don't know what my agent was doing." he said to laughter from local media.
Stinson grew up in the same hometown (Homestead, Fla.) as Cardinals third-round pick John Brown. The two are friends and were high school teammates before Brown transferred to a rival school.
Brown ran a 4.34 40 at the Combine, the third-fastest time of any player. That brought a chuckle to Stinson's lips.
"When he was younger, he wasn't fast at all," Stinson said. "He was the slowest kid on the block."
Powell's draft profile suggests that he lacks speed, but both he and Arians noted that he had a foot injury at the Combine that slowed him. He ran a 4.45 40 at his pro day.
Even so, Keim differentiated between Powell and Brown. While Brown brings game-changing speed, Powell is more physical and could compete for gunner and vice positions on special teams.
With several needs filled at the draft, Keim said the team will start signing rookie free agents in a class that is deeper than ever due to the large number of underclassmen (almost 100) who declared. Keim said the team will focus on signing three to five offensive linemen and two running backs.
CARDINALS' 2014 DRAFT PICKS
Round (overall): 1st (20)
Position: Strong safety
School: Washington State
Hometown: Fairfield, Calif.
2013 stats: 114 tackles (Pac-12 leader), six interceptions (tied for Pac-12 lead), three forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries, 4.5 tackles for loss.
Notable: First-team AP All-American as a senior; three-time All-Pac-12 selection; four-year starter with 43 total starts; had 15 career interceptions; ran a 4.48 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine.
Round (overall): 2nd (52)
Position: Tight end
School: Notre Dame
Hometown: Fullerton, Calif.
2013 stats: 32 catches, 498 yards, 5 TDs.
Notable: "He can become best blocking tight end in pro football if he wants to. He's very good on short and intermediate pass routes, but he's not a 4.5 (40-yard dash) guy. Notre Dame's history of tight ends has been phenomenal." -- Mike Mayock, NFL.com
Round (overall): 3rd (84)
Position: Defensive end
School: North Carolina
Hometown: Roanoke Rapids, N.C.
2013 stats: 11.5 sacks, 82 tackles (46 solos, 21.5 for loss, three forced fumbles).
Notable: Martin was a team captain. Of his 122 tackles since the start of the 2012 season, 45 came behind the line of scrimmage.
Round (overall): 3rd (91)
Position: Wide receiver
School: Pittsburg State
Hometown: Homestead, Fla.
2013 stats: 61 catches, 1,198 yards, 14 TDs; 12 KR, 389 yards, TD.
Notable: Redshirted in his only season at Coffeyville Community College in 2010 and did not play football in 2009.
Round (overall): 4th (120)
School: Virginia Tech
Hometown: Lynchburg, Va.
2013 stats: 228 completions, 403 attempts, 2,909 yards, 16 TDs, 13 INTs.
Notable: Thomas said several NFL teams spoke to him about the possibility of playing tight end, but he told them he wanted to be a QB and would only be OK playing a few plays at tight end in a package while he was a backup QB.
Round (overall) 5th (160)
Position: Defensive end
Hometown: Homestead, Fla.
2013 stats: 42 tackles (18 solos), 1.5 sacks, fumble recovery.
Notable: A lingering groin injury at the end of the 2013 season kept him from competing in the Senior Bowl. He attended the NFL Combine, measuring in and meeting with teams, but he didn't do any workouts.
Round (overall): 6th (196)
Position: Wide receiver
School: Murray State
Hometown: St. Louis, Mo.
2013 stats: 66 catches, 837 yards, 13 TDs.
Notable: His brother, Brandon Williams, was drafted by the 49ers in 2006 as a wide receiver.