Any evaluation of college quarterbacks must begin with an understanding of why NFL quarterbacks are successful. Talk to any NFL coach and they will tell you it begins with how a QB throws the ball. In the NFL, you have to make difficult throws against tough defenses in critical situations. It might happen only three times a game, it might happen eight times, but it will happen. If you can’t do it, you will not be a high level quarterback.
That brings me to Virginia Tech’s Logan Thomas, the best thrower in the 2014 draft class.
We pop off with an unearned sense of superiority on a lot of topics, but one topic that I probably tread lightly on is quarterbacks. They’re really hard to figure out. To be clear, I think that knowing they’re hard to figure out is its own actionable intel, but that’s for another post.
As Jon Moore pointed out to me in an email, one thing that makes QBs hard to figure out is that there aren’t a lot of cases to even train your model on. Approximately 2X as many receivers enter the NFL each year as do QBs. And most of those receivers will participate at some level before their careers are over, whereas lots of QBs never play significant downs. Then there’s the issue of all of the other variables that make it tough to tease out a QB’s value.
So on the issue of Logan Thomas, while I sort of wonder whether Cosell’s designation of Thomas as the best “thrower” even means anything, I’m probably slower to jump on that description than I would be if we were talking about WRs, TEs, or RBs – positions where I feel like RotoViz has a decent handle on what would make a prospect more likely to succeed.
But… c’mon, I can’t end this post without demonstrating at least a little hubris right?
Here is Thomas’ production table from college.
He never completed even 60% of his passes in a college season, which is kind of a red flag.
Dont’ get me wrong, nobody would be happier than me to see another oversized QB with ability to run come into the league. I also think that if Thomas is a talented thrower of the ball then there’s probably a value strategy to just pair him with an over-sized receiving game (that same strategy made Josh McCown some money in free agency).
But based on how successful QBs have looked in college, Thomas doesn’t really fit the picture right now. In Cosell’s article he compares Thomas to Cam Newton although Cam had completed 66% of his passes.