Thomas says he needs tweaks, not a rebuild with Cardinals
MAY 16, 2014 5:28p ET
TEMPE, Ariz. -- Logan Thomas doesn't like the word "project."
"When you think of a project, you think of building something from the ground up," the Cardinals' fourth-round draft pick said Friday at an introductory press conference at the team's headquarters. "I think I'm a lot more ready than people think. Everybody's got something to work on, but I don't think mine's as crazy as people are trying to make it out to be."
When the Cardinals selected the Virginia Tech quarterback 120th overall in the draft, they made it clear that they like plenty about Thomas, including his size (6-foot-6, 250 pounds), his strong arm, his leadership qualities and his ability to make plays with his feet.
Thomas said he understood why people were down on him before the draft because of the numbers he put up the past two seasons, as well as what analysts were seeing on film. But Cardinals coach Bruce Arians, also a Virginia Tech product, thought there was ample explanation for Thomas' inconsistency his final two seasons with the Hokies.
"He has been through three different offensive coordinators," Arians said. "When you look at his sophomore year, when he had players around him that he was very comfortable with, he looked like a No. 1 pick.
"(The next two seasons), the players surrounding him deteriorated a little bit; guys got hurt on him, this year especially. He struggled to find people open."
Thomas completed 234 of 391 (59.8 percent) passes his sophomore season for 3,013 yards with 19 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. But he threw 34 TDs and 29 interceptions the past two seasons to go along with an average completion percentage of 53.8.
Aside from personnel and system issues, there were mechanical problems to solve. Those have been Thomas' focus since the season ended. He's been working with QB guru George Whitfield, who runs a quarterback academy in the San Diego area, ever since his sophomore season. But this year, the pair have been micromanaging Thomas's footwork and touch.
"For one, when I put my foot down, I'd be on my tippy-toes, which would cause me not to have the right balance and cause the ball to be erratic. So we fixed that to where I'm putting my whole foot on the ground," Thomas said. "After that, when I'm under chaos in the pocket, being able to get back to a good position to be able to throw the ball. When I got off-balance was when things started going bad."
Thomas is convinced he has solved those issues, but the Cardinals are getting a better read on that and much more now that Thomas has reported to camp and is practicing with the team.
"The hardest things to judge are the heart and the brain. You have to have them in your huddle and in your room for a little while to really know what you've got," Arians said. "All the athletic stuff -- he's got all that stuff. If we can keep him trained to play in this offense, his skill set fits what we love to do."
Having your quarterback work with an outside tutor can be a tricky thing. Coaches often get territorial, fearing that the external coach will ruin their player. But Arians and Whitfield have a long history. Here's what Arians said about Whitfield in a testimonial on Whitfield's website:
“The hardest things to judge are the heart and the brain. You have to have them in your huddle and in your room for a little while to really know what you've got. All the athletic stuff -- he's got all that stuff.”
"That relentless focus on fundamentals is what separates Whitfield from other private tutors. He has no problem deferring to coaches who can teach his clients more about schemes and coverages. Whitfield just wants to teach them how to throw.
"A lot of young guys only think about schemes and never teach fundamentals. If you're seen as a schematic genius, that's how you move up in this profession. George is different."
"That's the exact reason you take a quarterback, because he has such a huge upside and there's no timetable," Arians said after the draft. "There's no rush for this guy to get on the field; just come in and learn how to play, relax, become a pro, because preparation in this league is so different than it is in college."
Thomas professes patience and a willingness to work hard the next couple years while he waits his turn. But there will come a time when both the team and Thomas expect more.
"I don't really have a set timetable," Thomas said. "Two years from now, I'd love to be a starter in the league and playing great football. However it goes down, I see myself working up to the top. But if it doesn't happen, I'm still going to be the same person I am today, working hard, trying to get there."