Cardinals pick Va. Tech QB Thomas in 4th round
TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) — The Arizona Cardinals finally made their much-anticipated move at quarterback in the NFL draft, selecting Virginia Tech’s Logan Thomas in the fourth round on Saturday.
At 6-foot-6, 248 pounds and with a strong arm, Thomas could be groomed as an eventual replacement for 34-year-old Carson Palmer.
Coach Bruce Arians had downplayed the idea of taking a quarterback in later rounds.
“I lie pretty good,” he said.
But the team had Thomas in mind all along.
“I didn’t want anybody jumping in front of us,” Arians said.
Thomas, in a conference call, said he “had a pretty good idea that I had a chance to go to the Cardinals and in all honesty this is what I was hoping. It just felt right from the first time meeting coach Arians and (quarterbacks) coach (Freddie) Kitchens. It just felt right from the very beginning.”
Thomas completed 55.5 percent of his passes for 9,003 career yards for the Hokies, with 53 touchdown passes and 30 interceptions. As a senior, he completed 56.5 percent for 2,907 yards and 16 TDs with 13 interceptions.
With their final two picks, the Cardinals drafted Alabama defensive end Ed Stinson in the fifth round and wide receiver Walt Powell of Murray State in the sixth. Arizona’s seventh-round pick went to Oakland in the trade that brought Palmer to the Cardinals.
Stinson, who said he was bothered by a sore groin all of last season after undergoing surgery in May, is a good friend of Arizona third-round pick Pittsburg State wide receiver John Brown. The two grew up together in Homestead, Florida.
Stinson was the second defensive end drafted by Arizona. The Cardinals got North Carolina’s Kareem Martin in the third round.
Arians, a Virginia Tech alumnus, said Thomas has “probably the best arm I’ve worked out in 10 years.”
But he is a player that needs development and must beat out current third-stringer Ryan Lindley.
“Nothing’s going to be handed to this guy,” Arians said. “He’s not the quarterback of the future ’til he earns it. He’s got to beat out a pretty good guy to get that No. 3 spot, and the No. 2 spot (Drew Stanton) ain’t changing.”
Thomas was the sixth quarterback selected in the draft and the 120th pick overall.
“When you’re sitting in the fourth through seventh round, if you think you’re finding Tom Brady, that’s not the case,” general manager Steve Keim said, “so you’re looking for redeeming qualities that excite you. He certainly has the physical skill set that excited you. He’s a good kid. So you can check all the boxes. Now it’s up to him on whether he pans out and develops.”
Thomas set Virginia Tech career records for yards passing, touchdowns, total offense (10,352 yards), completions (694) and attempts (1,249).
But there have been concerns about his accuracy and passing touch, things he said he has worked on this offseason with quarterback specialist George Woodfield.
“I’ve grown as a quarterback in this offseason,” Thomas said. “Everybody’s basing it off the season, which I understand. That’s what’s on film. But this offseason was a chance I was able to really go refine some things.”
Arians noted that Thomas had three offensive coordinators in three years and said the accuracy issues are “easily correctable stuff.”
As an assistant coach at Pittsburgh and Indianapolis and interim head coach with the Colts, Arians worked with Peyton Manning, Ben Roethlisberger and Andrew Luck.
Thomas said “it means a ton” to get to play for someone with that pedigree.
“I think it kind of shows he’s willing to work with a guy and build him up,” he said, “and create him into pretty much a monster in the way they play football. For me, I couldn’t have gone into a better situation.”
Playing behind Palmer also is a benefit, Thomas said.
“Some guys get thrown into the fire off the start,” he said. ”... I have the opportunity to sit and 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 in the league as well.”
Some teams thought Thomas would be better suited at tight end but Arians said the draftee would be a quarterback — period.
AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP_NFL