NFC West: Logan Thomas

Even though Thursday night was the last time rookie quarterback Logan Thomas would be playing for a while this season -- pending any injuries to either Carson Palmer or Drew Stanton -- the expectations were still high.

Arizona Cardinals coach Bruce Arians had a laundry list of things he wanted to see out of his fourth-round pick. Efficiency. Checkdowns. Avoid forcing it. Don’t take sacks.

[+] EnlargeLogan Thomas
AP Photo/Matt YorkRookie Logan Thomas was underwhelming in the Cardinals' final preseason game.
Thomas started out looking very good, hitting rookie tight end Troy Niklas for two straight completions to start the game. Then Thomas looked like a rookie, completing just seven more passes . He finished 9-of-21 for 73 yards as Arizona lost 12-9.

“Just very, very average,” Arians said. “You can’t take a sack there on the 1-yard-line patting the ball. It was a good learning experience for him.”

The sack Arians was referring to was in the first quarter when Chas Alecxih shed guard Jonathan Cooper at the line of scrimmage and then chased down Thomas for almost 15 yards before getting the sack. It was a situation like that one that Arians wanted to see Thomas, who was sacked three times Thursday night, throw the ball away or scramble out of it.

“We gave up some big hits on the quarterback,” Arians said.

Thomas said the offense couldn’t get clicking. The Cardinals finished with 98 yards compared to San Diego’s 347. They averaged 2.3 yards per play. They were 1-for-12 on third down.

“They played great defense and there were some things here and there that I could’ve have done better personally, but I’ve just got to watch the game and learn from it,” Thomas said.
For some Arizona Cardinals, Thursday night will be stressful as they play for their football futures.

That won’t be the case for rookie quarterback Logan Thomas.

His future as the Cardinals’ third-string quarterback was sealed Monday when Ryan Lindley was released, leaving Thomas behind starter Carson Palmer and backup Drew Stanton. Armed with the reassurance that he’s made the team, Thomas will start Arizona’s preseason finale in San Diego on Thursday.

[+] EnlargeLogan Thomas
AP Photo/Matt YorkThe Cardinals will be able to get their most extensive look yet at rookie QB Logan Thomas in a live-game setting.
For the first time this preseason, Thomas will know exactly when he’ll play and how many snaps he’ll take -- all of them.

“You get to know what you’re running going into it,” Thomas said. “The uncertainty of when you’re going in or if you’re going in isn’t there. So, it’s just nice to be able to know I have an opportunity to play as much as I do.”

Thomas will be running a trimmed-down playbook that was built upon the plays he ran last weekend against Cincinnati, Cardinals coach Bruce Arians said. It’s been tailored to fit a full game instead of a half or a quarter, which Thomas has played in during his first two appearances, respectively. There are also wrinkles added to counter San Diego’s defense, but most importantly Thomas will be calling plays that fit his style.

In his first preseason game, on Aug. 9 against Houston, Thomas went 11-for-12 for 113 yards and a touchdown. Against Cincinnati on Sunday, he was just 2-for-7 for 21 yards in the fourth quarter. Thomas used his outing against the Texans as a building block for the rest of the preseason. He said he learned a lot about which throws he was capable of making on the NFL level.

Thomas’ efficiency will be closely monitored by Arians, but that’s just one thing on a long list of things Arians wants to see out of Thomas.

“Don’t turn the ball over, get it to the right spots, like you did in the first game, and get it out of your hand, don’t take sacks, throw it to a checkdown, don’t always force it down the field,” Arians listed.

Arians expects his fourth-round draft pick to settle down early in the first quarter and not press because Thomas will know he has three more quarters ahead of him.

“He should be able to relax and just play,” Arians said. “Let the game come to him.

“Just play the game. The decision’s been made. You’re going to be there. Just play the quarterback as best as you can play.”

In three quarters this preseason, Thomas, the Virginia Tech product, said his main takeaway about playing in the NFL has been the speed and caliber of every player. He needs to be smarter than in college, he said, and take advantage of opportunities more in the pros.

But he also learned to be more careful not to force plays, especially when he was given a finite amount of snaps.

“At times it is [hard not to force plays]", Thomas said. “But at the same time, you don’t want to be overzealous trying to make plays when they’re not there.”
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Don’t start a debate with Arizona Cardinals coach Bruce Arians about whether or not the NFL should eliminate preseason games.

You’ll lose.

He’ll just refer to quarterback Logan Thomas' performance in the Cardinals’ 32-0 win over the Houston Texans on Saturday as Exhibit A as to why rookies need the exhibition games. If Thomas didn’t have Saturday evening to go 11-for-12 for 113 yards and a touchdown in his NFL debut, Arians would still be wincing in practice every time Thomas overthrew a receiver or fired a rocket on a 6-yard route.

Instead, Thomas was nearly flawless, going through his progressions and finding the right mix of speed and finesse on his passes.

“This is the beauty of the preseason,” Arians said. “People that want to get rid of preseason games don’t have young quarterbacks. If they don’t get preseason games, they have no chance.”

Because of the first and second teams’ offensive efficiency in the first half, Arians handed Thomas the ball for the entire second half. He had 42 snaps to get his legs under him, and they gave the fourth-round pick enough time to settle his nerves and find a rhythm.

He completed his first three passes before missing on a throw to Walt Powell. Then Thomas completed his next eight.

“It just slowed down for me,” Thomas said. “It felt good. Everybody was in their right spots and I was making good reads.”

On his touchdown pass, Thomas previewed what life would be like with him behind center. On the 14th play of the drive, with Arizona already ahead 23-0 and the Cardinals facing a third-and-4 from the 12-yard line, the pocket collapsed, forcing Thomas to step up and make a decision. Either he’d be sacked, take off running or throw the ball away. At 6-foot-6 and 250 pounds, Thomas isn’t easy to get down, especially when he’s fighting linebackers his size. With option one off the board, Thomas went through his progressions, but none of his options were open at first so he cupped the football and began to run. Just before he crossed the line of scrimmage, which would’ve given the announced attendance of 60,540 a glimpse of the foot skills that added value to Thomas’ draft stock, he fired a bullet to Dan Buckner in the back of the end zone for at touchdown.

This wasn’t the same Thomas that Arians has been watching since May.

“He had a nice, calm demeanor,” Arians said. “We kept with things he likes and knows. He threw some balls in there that made me hold my breath, but the guys caught them.

“He was very, very good.”

Thomas’ pre-draft evaluations focused on his accuracy issues, which marred his career at Virginia Tech. It’s been a topic of discussion every time Thomas’ name comes up, but throwing one incompletion in his NFL debut, regardless of it being a preseason game, showed that Thomas is ready to start competing for a job on this level.

But Saturday wasn’t even his best passing day of camp. He was 16-for-16 one other time.

Like any other outing, Thomas said he wasn’t perfect. There were a few passes he wanted back. Thomas said his goals against Houston were narrowed to three things: go through his progressions, make the right reads and make the right passes. In the immediate aftermath of his impressive introduction, he believed he accomplished all three, but he won’t know for sure until film is turned on this week.

That’s what these preseason games are for -- for rookies to make mistakes -- but they’re also designed for rookies to impress. It’s one thing to be a good practice player. It’s another to show up on game day. Arians never expected Thomas to play as well as he did in a game, considering his struggles in training camp.

But some players just feel at home under the lights.

“I felt very comfortable,” Thomas said. “Don’t get me wrong, I messed up my fair share of stuff, but I felt good, felt relaxed and a lot more relaxed than I thought I’d be going into the game.”
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- When Logan Thomas arrived in Arizona back in May, he was throwing very hard.

Each pass seemed launched out of a cannon, destined to smash through a brick wall or at least break a receiver’s hand. A couple days from his first NFL preseason game, the rookie quarterback has learned how to control his arm a bit more. Now he’s just throwing hard.

But there’s still work to be done. He’s learning when to throw a bullet and when to put a little touch on a pass. Differentiating between the two has been a struggle for Thomas.

“It’s just a feel thing,” Thomas said. “The defense makes it dictate if you need to put air on it or skim it over the top of a linebacker’s head on behind him.

"If you just want to fit it in a window, you have to put something on it. It’s just a feel.”

It didn’t take long for his teammates to feel Thomas’ velocity.

Early in camp, rookie tight end Troy Niklas didn’t get his head around in time and Thomas launched a split second too early. The result was a pass to the side of the helmet.

“You know, [he’s] trying to give people concussions out there,” Niklas said with a laugh. “You just got to know every time he throws the ball that you got to be on your ‘A’ game, really looking it in.”

Getting their heads around quick has become a prerequisite for receivers when Thomas is throwing. So is running fast to track his passes down, rookie receiver Walt Powell said. Thomas is expected to play most of the fourth quarter, if not more, in Arizona’s first preseason game Saturday against the Houston Texans.

Learning the Cardinals’ offensive scheme has been a challenge for Thomas because “it’s a pretty difficult offense to figure out.” Cardinals coach Bruce Arians has set basic goals for Thomas on Saturday: Improve efficiency and accuracy, especially when it comes to going through his progressions and finding the correct receiver.

Then there’s the issue of developing that touch.

“He’s improved in that area,” Arians said. “He’s still missing too many wide open guys when, I think, he has tried to take a little off of it instead of just hitting him. Their job’s to catch it, so be accurate. Just don’t miss the guy in the flat for the first down or a bootleg tight end that’s wide open. You got to hit him. And I think he’s growing.”
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Arizona Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians was excited for the start of padded practices, which begin Monday afternoon.

"We were very fortunate yesterday," Arians said. "We were way too active to be in shorts. I was holding my breath a little bit yesterday, but it was an outstanding practice."

• Arians said nose tackle Dan Williams will have an MRI on his swollen left knee. Williams is expected to miss Monday afternoon's practice.

• With pads being donned Monday, Arians won't limit how much his players hit. "With the limited time you can hit now, you can't hit enough, in my opinion."

• Arians said he hopes to keep four tight ends, but the rotation will be "more tailored to what they do best."

• Arians won't "baby" tight end John Carlson because of his history of concussions.

• When it comes to using fullbacks, Arians would rather use a versatile tight end than a true fullback because defenses can't prepare for a tight end that can play both positions as well as they can for a fullback.

• Quarterback Logan Thomas will get more snaps than Ryan Lindley in practice because he's newer, Arians said.

• Arians isn't a fan of training camp fights. He'd rather buy his players boxing gloves -- like Bear Bryant used to -- than see them break their hands. But Arians said he won't fine players for fights, he'll just "cut them."

Cardinals Camp Report: Day 1

July, 26, 2014
Jul 26
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- A daily review of the hot topics coming out of Arizona Cardinals training camp:
  • Arizona’s first day of training camp provided a few highlight-worthy moments for fans but it finished without any major newsworthy events. The practice appeared to be injury free but we’ll know more Sunday morning when Cardinals coach Bruce Arians addresses the media. Watching camp this year will be like watching a Pro Bowl practices with the likes of cornerbacks Antonio Cromartie and Patrick Peterson matching up against receivers Larry Fitzgerald and Michael Floyd. Throughout Saturday, Cromartie showed no signs of a hip flexor injury, running stride for stride with Fitzgerald and denying the eight-time Pro Bowler a few catches. Saturday still featured its share of Fitzgerald catches.
  • During the first two days of media availability, offensive players have raved about how they feel “light years” ahead of last year. It showed throughout practice. Routes were clean and crisp, and quarterback Carson Palmer was hitting receivers in stride. On a few occasions, he gave individual direction before snapping the ball. There were also minimal interruptions by Arians and other coaches, a sign that the offense was executing at a higher level.
  • When safety Tyrann Mathieu emerged from the bowels of University of Phoenix Stadium, where he was going through a rehab workout, and walked onto the field about an hour into practice, the crowd gave its bigger cheer of the afternoon. The Honey Badger acknowledged it with a wave.
  • Right tackle Bobby Massie and right guard Paul Fanaika spent the entire practice working with the first team. Sunday will tell if Arians plans on rotating in Bradley Sowell at tackle and Earl Watford at guard, giving them both reps with the starters. Both lined up with the second team Saturday.
  • It was only Day 1 but some of the rookies looked like rookies in their first training camp practice. Logan Thomas began the day working ahead of Ryan Lindley as the second-string quarterback. Throughout the course of the day his accuracy declined, as some passes hit the ground short of the receiver toward the end of practice while others sailed high. The velocity on some of Thomas' passes at times was too much for some receivers to handle.
TEMPE, Ariz. – Some of Logan Thomas' passes during the Cardinals' rookie minicamp Friday were darts.

They hit receivers in stride, whether it was from 5 or 30 yards. But some of Thomas’ passes sailed high, wide, low and wobbly.

[+] EnlargeLogan Thomas
AP Photo/Matt YorkThe ability of Logan Thomas has Arizona coach Bruce Arians impressed. "He has all the talent in the world," Arians said.
All of them, however, were seen in person by the entire Arizona Cardinals’ staff. For the first time since the drafted rookies and undrafted free agents convened here last week, they, along with 17 tryout players, had the full attention of the coaching staff.

During the three-day organized team activity earlier this week, the rookies were relegated to the Cardinals’ second practice field, where they were able to get reps but away from the live eyes of Arians, who watched them on tape after practice.

For Thomas, who Arians said got 25 percent of the snaps during OTAs, rookie minicamp was a chance to take the majority of the snaps.

“It means a ton just because you get to see multiple different things that you don’t normally get to see,” Thomas said. “I get two snaps every five reps [during OTAs] and here I got every one of them, so it’s very nice to be able to have that chance to see things.”

Arians said he was impressed with a few of the tryout players, enough to say they had a chance to unseat a few of the rookies.

With the entire staff watching, that meant the coaches saw the good, the bad and the ugly.

“A couple [of tryout] guys caught my eye that may look better in these two practices than the guys who’ve been here for eight days,” Arians said. “We’ll swap them out. That’s the cold part of the business. Every single day you’re being evaluated, and learning is one of the things I put the most premium on.

“If you can’t learn it by now, the basic stuff and you’ve been here eight days, you’re probably not going to be able to learn it because the volume is just going to get bigger.”

Arians acknowledged how difficult it is for the rookies to only have about a week’s worth of time learning the offense before trying to run it full speed. That includes Thomas, the Cardinals’ fourth-round pick out of Virginia Tech, whose accuracy fluctuated at times. Some plays weren’t his fault, while other times the ball seemed to get away from the 6-foot-6 signal-caller.

Thomas’ first full-team drills were two run plays then he progressed into passes. A few were behind receivers while others were out of reach. Thomas, however, showed the poise of a veteran while throwing the ball away when nothing was open. He also fumbled a snap.

“When he knows what he’s doing and the guys around him know what they’re doing, he’s pretty good,” Arians said. “Biggest thing for him is try not to, as you’re dropping back, decide where you’ll throw. Get back there. It takes him too long to get back, and then he’s ready to throw but his feet aren’t there yet. Get back, move your feet. He has all the talent in the world.

“It’s processing information and getting the ball out of his hand. And that’s experience.”
TEMPE, Ariz. -- With the Arizona Cardinals’ minicamp starting Friday afternoon, the newbies get a chance to work with the coaches on their own without the intimidation of the veterans lingering overhead. The three practices will give them a chance to put a resume on tape as the roster will begin churning over in the next few days. Players like safety Deone Bucannon and wide receiver John Brown will be facing competition this weekend that won’t ever see a minute of NFL action. Then again, there may be a needle in a haystack.

Here are five things to know about Cardinals rookie camp:
  • This is the type of individualized work that Logan Thomas needs. After spending the past three days getting 25 percent of the snaps on the second practice field, Thomas will be the focus of the rookie camp, which means Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians, assistant head coach Tom Moore and quarterbacks coach Freddy Kitchens will have their eyes on Thomas. The coaching staff will get their first up-close look at how much Thomas has improved during the offseason and where specifically he needs to grow.
  • Don’t expect tight end Troy Niklas to participate. Like I wrote about earlier this week, Niklas, the Cardinals’ second-round pick out of Notre Dame, is still recovering from hernia surgery he had after the NFL combine. He’s expected back, Cardinals coach Bruce Arians said, for the second minicamp, which will take place in June.
  • A name to watch: Anthony Steen. The former University of Alabama offensive guard had his senior season ravaged by injuries. He suffered a concussion early in the year and underwent shoulder surgery after the regular season, which forced him to miss the combine. Despite four full-time guards and two other guard/centers on the roster, Steen can play himself into contention for a roster spot if he can regain his collegiate form in the next month. The Cardinals signed him knowing about his medical history but they obviously saw enough potential to bring him on board. Steen can be another one of general manager Steve Keim’s hidden gems.
  • Arizona will bring in between 15-20 tryout players this weekend to see if anyone catches their eye. Don’t be surprised if one or two are signed, which means someone will be cut.
  • This weekend isn’t just for drafted rookies, undrafted free agents and tryout players. The Cardinals will also include a few young players they feel need the extra reps, so don’t be surprised to hear about third-string quarterback Ryan Lindley taking snaps alongside Thomas. This is an opportunity for roster players to prove why they’re already on the team, but they can’t look at the weekend as a punishment and just go through the motions because Keim and Arians won’t mind cutting them in favor of someone who wants to be out there.
Bruce AriansAP Photo/Ross D. FranklinArizona Cardinals coach Bruce Arians will get a look at his full team Tuesday when OTAs begin.
This time last year, the buzz around the Cardinals was about a new coach with a new culture and a new scheme. This year, it’s about how do the Cardinals make the playoffs?

As the Cardinals’ offseason team activities (OTAs) begin Tuesday, there’s a lot to ponder from the past year and much to speculate on going forward. The next month will begin determining the fate for a lot of players on the current 90-man roster. As Cardinals coach Bruce Arians loved saying last year, this is when they have to put it on tape.

Here are 10 observations as the Cards begin OTAs:

  1. The top three running backs are established with Andre Ellington, Stepfan Taylor and Jonathan Dwyer sitting atop the depth chart, but after that is a major drop-off. As of now, there isn’t is a viable option for the fourth back, which was occupied by Alfonso Smith a season ago. He’s gone and so is Ryan Williams, leaving the fourth spot up for grabs. That running back, however, may not be on the field Tuesday.
  2. There’ll be a lot of eyes on the newcomers this offseason, such as quarterback Logan Thomas, cornerback Antonio Cromartie, safety Deone Bucannon and left tackle Jared Veldheer. But the most intriguing position battle of the offseason starts Tuesday with two returning offensive linemen at right tackle. Arizona hasn’t re-signed Eric Winston for a reason: It wants to see what Bradley Sowell and Bobby Massie can do. The two were college teammates at Ole Miss but neither are the clear-cut choices to assume the starting job. There have been questions about Massie’s ability to pick up the playbook for the last few seasons and Sowell was able to hold his own at left tackle last season but there’s a reason Arians didn’t keep him there. It’s yet to be seen if he’ll fare better on the right side.
  3. Losing Karlos Dansby was a major blow to the Cardinals’ inside linebackers but it could get worse. Having Daryl Washington practice with the first team may be for naught if he’s suspended for a significant amount of time by the league for violating the NFL’s personal conduct policy. The Cardinals are already in tryout mode with second-year linebacker Kevin Minter but if Washington is lost for more than a game, what was a strong point of the Cards’ defense will be its liability. Veteran Larry Foote may need the reps this offseason to get ready for a larger role next year but this is also a chance for an unknown inside backer to get noticed.
  4. It’s one thing for Cromartie to say his hip is better but it’s another for him to go out and show it. He’ll have the eyes of the media – although it’s not quite like New York – on him this offseason. If Cromartie’s hip isn’t an issue, he’ll be half of one of the league’s top cornerback tandems. If his right hip flexor is still hampering him during OTAs, he’ll be wise to just sit and let a young cornerback earn some time. But next up on the depth chart is the man Cromartie replaced, Jerraud Powers, who is likely itching to win back his spot.
  5. The top three wide receivers are a shoe-in. Larry Fitzgerald, Michael Floyd and Ted Ginn will have jobs in 2014. It’s the other eight receivers on the roster who’ll be fighting for their jobs starting Tuesday. Arians clearly likes small, speedy receives -- he drafted two -- but now he has an abundance of them on the roster and will start weeding through them this week. One or two will make the cut but the rest will left fighting for the final few spots on the roster as a gunner or a special-teams machine.
  6. What a difference a year makes. Last May, the Cardinals were as confused as ever when it came to learning Arians’ offense. This year they know the wrinkles and intricacies of his complex offense. The days of Fitzgerald and Floyd lining up in the wrong places are over. The next step can be taken, which could mean a quicker start for the Cardinals than a year ago. And the result of that could then a game or two in January.
  7. Throughout the smokescreens before and during the draft, there was one truth that rose above it all: Arizona wasn’t drafting a quarterback unless he could win a spot on the roster. After the Cardinals picked Logan Thomas, Arians made it clear the first two quarterback spots are taken. That means Ryan Lindley’s third-string job is up for grabs. He’s been lending a helping hand to Thomas but when practice gets going Tuesday, he’ll need to turn it up to show Arians that he made a mistake. That may be harder than anticipated because Logan was drafted to not get cut.
  8. One of the few players with the most to lose and the most to gain during OTAs is tight end Rob Housler. He fell short of expectations last season and never grew into the player Arians had envisioned him being. It doesn’t help Housler, cut from the receiving tight end mold, that he isn’t fond of blocking. The Cardinals went out during the offseason and added two tight ends who are tailor made to fit Arians’ two-tight end scheme. Add in Jake Ballard, who joined the team around midseason last year, and Arizona has a three-tight end rotation that could see Housler as the odd man out.
  9. Tuesday will be the first day that left guard Jonathan Cooper can take the field for since he broke his leg against San Diego in the Cardinals’ third preseason game. How much Cooper can do starting this week will be an indication of how far along in his rehab he is. If he’s practicing in full, training camp will be a sure thing. If not, then training camp may be the first time Cooper will work out at full capacity.
  10. Another offensive lineman the Cardinals are anxious to see on the field is guard Earl Watford. The second-year player feels he has a better grasp of the playbook and the offense in his second offseason. He’ll be given a chance to win the starting job over last year’s starting guard Paul Fanaika. If he does, the job may be Watford’s for the foreseeable future.
It didn't take long for the Arizona Cardinals to have a quarterback controversy this offseason.

But it doesn't involve the starter or even the back-up.

Fourth-round draft pick Logan Thomas began his quest to win the third-string job from Ryan Lindley on Monday, when rookies reported to the Cardinals' practice facility in Tempe.

“It's competition,” Arizona coach Bruce Arians said Saturday after the final day of the NFL draft. “There is nothing being handed to this guy. He is not the quarterback of the future until he earns it. He has to be a pretty good guy to get that No. 3 spot. The No. 2 spot isn't changing. That's not a problem.

“It's just a matter of, can he beat out Ryan?”

[+] EnlargeLogan Thomas
AP Photo/Michael ConroyLogan Thomas will compete with Ryan Lindley to be the Cardinals' third-string quarterback.
In the weeks leading up to the draft, Arians said the Cardinals wouldn't take a quarterback if they didn't think he could beat out one of the two back-ups already on the roster. By simply drafting Thomas out of Virginia Tech, Arians showed his hand.

Then on Saturday, after general manager Steve Keim said a team should draft a quarterback later in the draft if it thinks he could eventually be a franchise player, Arians said Thomas fit that bill.

“He has the skill set to,” he said.

A decision won't be made on Lindley's future with the team until some point toward the end of training camp. Until then, it'll be a daily battle between Thomas and Lindley. Although he's likely to make the roster, Thomas' spot isn't guaranteed just yet. He was drafted as a developmental quarterback, Arians said, which means Thomas has to show progress for Arians and Keim to believe he can eventually be Palmer's successor.

Arians already knows what Thomas has physically. There are two intangibles, however, that Arians and Keim couldn't evaluate at the combine that will dictate what kind of quarterback Thomas turns into.

“The hardest things to judge are the heart and the brain because that's what they play with,” Arians said. “You have to have them in your huddle and in your (quarterbacks) room for a little while to really know what you've got. All the athletic stuff, he's got all that stuff.

“He's got the heart. If we can get him trained to play in this offense, his skill set fits what we love to do. He has a beautiful deep ball. He's got as pretty of a deep ball as (starter) Carson (Palmer), who I think has one of the best in the league. He can stand there and just drop it in the bucket.”

Arians said there's a drill that proves how well Thomas can throw a deep ball. The drill places a bucket 40 yards down field, four yards off the sideline. The goal is to throw the ball into said bucket.

“He'll put it in the bucket four out of 10,” Arians said, “which is unbelievable.”

Thomas only has from Monday until the end of the preseason to show the Cardinals how much he's improved. If he's not the starter, Thomas will be running the scout team, Arians said. And even then he'll only be getting half of the reps because back-up Drew Stanton will get the other half. Skill-wise, Arians thinks Thomas is ready to play now but how fast he progresses up the depth chart is all up to him.

What Thomas can offer the Cardinals that Palmer, Stanton or Lindley can't is the ability to make plays with his feet, Keim said. And that's exciting, but it may not be enough on its own to get Thomas snaps.

"Now, is he ready to play?" Arians asked. "No."

But Arians said Thomas will be playing quite a bit in the preseason because Palmer won't.

“The hardest part is you don't get enough practice,” Arians said.

“Once the season starts, the development is more learning the offense, learning why the ball comes out of your hand and it will show up the next offseason when he starts, again, attempting to move up the depth chart. But that first year it's all about coming in, beating out a guy that's already here who's pretty good, who's really improved in the year and (a) half that we've had him and that's Ryan.”
NFC wrap-ups: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

TEMPE, Ariz. -- A wrap-up of the Arizona Cardinals' draft. Click here for a full list of Cardinals draftees.

[+] EnlargeLogan Thomas
AP Photo/Michael ConroyVirginia Tech's Logan Thomas could be the Cardinals' starter by 2015.
Best move: Drafting Logan Thomas. Quarterback has been a touchy subject around the Cardinals all offseason, especially since Carson Palmer has just one more year on his contract. Adding Thomas gives the Cardinals an option for the future. The best part of drafting Thomas is, as long as Palmer stays healthy, he won’t be forced into action this coming season. The longer Thomas can sit behind Palmer and learn Bruce Arians’ offense, the better he’ll be in the long run. Anyone watching the Cardinals in 2013 saw how long it took for the offense to grasp the intricate scheme Arians installed. Having a young quarterback immersed in it for about 10 months before he’s handed the keys will allow him to make a seamless transition. It’ll also take at least that long for Thomas to be ready to start. He has the physical tools, but there are accuracy issues that need to be addressed. It's a small trade-off for having a quarterback who can eventually be a starter.

Riskiest move: Trading out of the 20th pick in the first round ended up working out for the Cardinals, but it was their riskiest move of the draft. Had the Cardinals missed out on safety Deone Bucannon, the shape of their entire draft would have changed. And if there was one pressing need for Arizona this year it is at safety. Their inability to cover tight ends was no secret, so finding a tall, physical safety in the first round was almost imperative for the Cardinals to make a run at the playoffs. If Bucannon had been off the board before No. 27, the Cardinals would’ve been in trouble.

Most surprising move: Drafting multiple players at the same position. The Cardinals used this draft to stock up at wide receiver and defensive end, but they left a few needs on the board. Arizona wanted to improve at speed receiver but picking John Brown in the third round and then Walt Powell in the sixth round created a logjam. Both bring different attributes to the field, but they’re similar in stature and rely on speed to earn their keep. How many of the same type of player is needed? The same question can be asked about the defensive ends Arizona selected. The Cardinals drafted Kareem Martin in the third round and then Ed Stinson in the fifth. General manager Steve Keim said Stinson was the backup plan if another team had drafted Martin, but Arizona opted for both. Like the receivers, Martin and Stinson are touted as different pass-rushers but either one would’ve fit Arizona’s need. The Cardinals finished the draft with holes at right tackle and linebacker.

File it away: This draft class will have three players who’ll be considered "hits" in a few years. Bucannon can become an instant starter while utilizing his range and size, especially against the run. Tight end Troy Niklas has the size and athleticism to emerge as one of the best tight ends in the league, especially in Arians’ offense. And if Thomas can fix his accuracy issues, he can wind up being the Cardinals starter in 2015.
TEMPE, Ariz. -- Logan Thomas wasn't picked in the fourth round to be the Arizona Cardinals' starting quarterback in 2014.

He wasn't even picked to be Carson Palmer's backup.

[+] EnlargeLogan Thomas
AP Photo/John BazemoreLogan Thomas, a 6-foot-6 quarterback out of Virginia Tech, will be an ideal project for Cardinals coach Bruce Arians.
But a year from now, the Cardinals may have a starting quarterback who'll be a refined, polished version of the man drafted 120th overall. That's what can happen after Thomas, the former Virginia Tech quarterback, spends a year on the bench under the tutelage of Palmer, Cardinals coach Bruce Arians and assistant coach Tom Moore.

"I think it's completely just learning how to be a professional in general," Thomas said.

"I have the opportunity to sit back, watch and learn, 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. I really have the opportunity to learn. And learning at this age is something anybody needs and then once I get my shot is when you really start moving forward."

Thomas was one of few players in this draft who fit the mold of an Arians-style quarterback. He's 6-foot-6 and 250 pounds with "probably one of the strongest arms in the last 10 years," Arians said last week. The physical tools to be a starter are there, but Thomas isn't ready to be handed the keys to an offense just yet. His accuracy has come under scrutiny, not just by so-called experts, but Thomas as well.

He's the ideal project for Arians, who worked out Thomas in April at Virginia Tech. Accuracy and vision is something Arians can fix. Height, speed and arm strength, however, can't be taught.

But Thomas isn't a weekend project. His off-target percentage was 25 percent his last two seasons at Virginia Tech. During that stretch, his QBR was 47.6. For perspective, the top 10 quarterbacks ranked by Scouts Inc. all had a QBR of more than 60 since the start of the 2012 season. Some of that had to do with the fact Thomas had three different offensive coordinators in as many years. Each had their own philosophy and asked for different things. Arians understood that and has referred to Thomas' success during his sophomore season.

Through the smokescreens put out by Arians and Cardinals general manager, however a piece of truth could be pieced together. They weren't about to draft a quarterback in the fourth round or later who couldn't overtake either Drew Stanton or Ryan Lindley. Thomas has the ability to do both, although winning the third-string job is more likely to start the season.

Arians' offense best runs with a quarterback the size of Thomas who has similar mobility. Look at Ben Roethlisberger, a young Peyton Manning and Andrew Luck. All have the size and feet to get out of trouble and make plays with their legs.

Thomas might be a better physical specimen than all of them. Now, it's about refining the football part of him.

"I think it kinda shows he's willing to work with a guy and build him up and create him into a pretty much a monster in the way they play football," Thomas said. "For me, I couldn't have gone into a better situation. I'm very blessed."

Full 49ers' mock draft

May, 8, 2014
May 8
Here is my seven-round prediction for the San Francisco 49ers' draft.

No, I do not have any confidence I'm getting this correct. But I am going to project a trade since I don't believe they're going to keep all 11 picks. I think I will at least be in the right range of the total number of picks they're going to make. Here we go:

Trade: I project the 49ers sending three of their picks (No. 30, No. 56 and No. 61) to the Tennessee Titans for the 11th overall pick in the first round.

 Summary: The 49ers have a lot of options as far as moving up. But there have been strong indications they want to go big for a top receiver. LSU's Odell Beckham would qualify as a big hit. The cost is expensive, but it could be worth it for the 49ers, who want an instant impact player. Pierre Desir and Marcus Roberson would give a much-needed boost at cornerback. They both could potentially contribute early. Stork could be a nice prospect to snare in the third round. Thomas has the look of a quarterback Jim Harbaugh would like to develop. The last four players on the board are all players the 49ers have shown interest in during the draft process.

49ers' draft primer

May, 6, 2014
May 6
With the NFL draft two days away, let's look at some questions surrounding the San Francisco 49ers:

Will it be easy to trade up? Reports indicate the 49ers are expected to be one of the most aggressive teams attempting to move up. The 49ers have the No. 30 overall pick and six in the first 100. They will likely start considering a trade once the draft gets into the No. 12-14 range and then they work on it until it works.

Is this the year Harbaugh drafts a Stanford player? This is the fourth draft for coach Jim Harbaugh in San Francisco since he was hired away from Stanford. The 49ers have yet to draft a player from Stanford with Harbaugh. Eleven Stanford players have been drafted in the past three years. Perhaps this year -- the last Cardinal class Harbaugh coached -- will be the year. Stanford has several draft prospects, and perhaps players' like Shayne Skov, Trent Murphy, Ed Reynolds or Ben Gardner will end the drought.

Will the drafting injured player trend continue? Last year, the 49ers took advantage of a surplus of picks and few needs by taking injured players Tank Carradine and Marcus Lattimore. The two were essentially redshirted and are now expected to play. Again, the 49ers have a lot of picks and few needs. Perhaps injured players such as Florida defensive tackle Dominique Easley, Oklahoma cornerback Aaron Colvin and Clemson guard Brandon Thomas could attract the 49ers.

Will the quarterback whisperer get a new charge? Harbaugh has made it clear in his three NFL seasons that he loves working with young quarterbacks. The 49ers are candidates to draft a quarterback in the mid-round as they try to develop a backup for Colin Kaepernick. Harbaugh has studied several quarterbacks this spring. Among the candidates are Virginia Tech's Logan Thomas, San Jose State's David Fales and Clemson's Tajh Boyd.

How many picks are enough? I wouldn't be shocked if the 49ers trade up a few times. This is a loaded roster. There aren't that many -- maybe five to seven -- rookies who will make this 53-man roster. So, expect the 49ers to lean toward quality over quantity.

Will they pick a new return man? Incumbent returner LaMichael James is working out on his own and is open to a trade. Even if James isn't dealt this week, the 49ers may look to replace him. I wouldn't be shocked if one of the receivers and/or cornerbacks the 49ers look at early doubles as a returner.

Where does a pass-rusher fit? Aldon Smith's future is clouded by legal issues. The 49ers might decide to try to find a pass-rusher. If so, they may have to do it fairly early. ESPN draft expert Todd McShay thinks the run on impact pass-rushers may be over in the first 50 picks.
The San Francisco 49ers will likely consider adding a quarterback in the mid rounds of the draft.

The team would like to develop a backup to young star Colin Kaepernick. His 2013 backup, veteran Colt McCoy, is a free agent. The team also has McLeod Bethel-Thompson, who could compete for the job.

Still, this is a deep draft, and the 49ers have a surplus of picks. And coach Jim Harbaugh is a huge fan of young quarterbacks. The 49ers looked at several last season. Here is a look at some of the quarterbacks who could attract interest in the mid-rounds:

Tajh Boyd, Clemson: Once considered a top-10 pick, Boyd could be tempting if he is available late in the third round.

David Fales, San Jose State: The local kid has the look of becoming a competent backup.

Jimmy Garoppolo, Eastern Illinois: He dominated at a low level. Could be worth a shot.

AJ McCarron, Alabama: He’s smart and a winner. Those are two wonderful quarterback traits.

Aaron Murray, Georgia: coming of an injury. Could be an interesting guy to stash.

Logan Thomas, Virginal Tech: He has all the tools. Could be worth developing.