Perspective on Thomas bolting Oregon

January, 15, 2012
1/15/12
11:06
AM ET
Woke up thinking about Oregon quarterback Darron Thomas' surprising decision to enter the NFL draft.

We wrote last night it was a "terrible," decision, and based on things at present, it would be difficult to argue that it was a good decision.

[+] EnlargeDarron Thomas
Ezra Shaw/Getty ImagesOregon quarterback Darron Thomas is skipping his senior season to enter the NFL draft.
We may have overstated things saying that Thomas won't get drafted. For one, Thomas is a winner. He's 23-3 as a starter. And, despite some mechanical issues and runs of inaccuracy, he still finished ranked 11th in the nation in passing efficiency, though some might argue the dominance of the Ducks' run-first scheme made for some wide-open opportunities in the passing game.

Bottom line: All it takes is for one general manager to fall in love with him. Perhaps there are coaches out there who want to run more shotgun, spread-option elements.

Further, we don't know Thomas' situation. There could be personal reasons he's taking this seemingly premature leap of faith in himself, though he didn't provide any such insights to ESPN's Joe Schad during a phone conversation Saturday night. He already has his degree, so that certainly satisfies one potential tweak from observers.

A couple of you reasonably commented in the mailbag that Thomas probably wouldn't solve his issues -- mechanical or otherwise -- during his senior year if he hadn't already, therefore his stock likely won't get much higher.

I'd add that the recent decisions of USC QB Matt Barkley and Oklahoma QB Landry Jones to return for their senior seasons makes this QB draft class fairly thin after Stanford's Andrew Luck and Baylor's Robert Griffin III. This likely was also noted by Arizona State's Brock Osweiler, who surprised some with his decision to leave early.

You tick off the top 10 QBs and things start to get thin pretty early. Considering 12 QBs were drafted last spring, Thomas certainly has a solid shot to be a late-round pick.

But Thomas would have benefited from coming back, and I strongly feel he would have improved his draft status.

For one, yes, he could improve his accuracy and mechanics. While some insist you can't improve accuracy after a certain point, keep in mind accuracy is a two-way street. Do you think Oklahoma State quarterback Brandon Weeden's 72 percent completion percentage would have been any lower if he didn't have wide receiver Justin Blackmon? Yes, you do. The Ducks should be better and deeper at receiver next season -- assuming the talented redshirt freshmen come through -- and that might have helped Thomas boost his 62 percent completion percentage.

Further, completing a body of work matters. If the Ducks won another BCS bowl next January, and Thomas improved to, say, 36-4 as a starter -- and maybe completed 66 percent of his passes in 2012 -- the evidence on the "winner" side counterbalancing the "he's a spread-option guy with questionable mechanics" would have been much heavier. Three years of success playing quarterback in the Pac-12 would have been far more impressive than two years.

Schad reported that Thomas signed with agent Drew Rosenhaus, which means the deal is done. There won't be any backtracking.

But it also means that one of the top agents in the NFL believes in Thomas. So maybe what will end up being "terrible" about this decision will be our initial reaction?

Ted Miller | email

College Football

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