Virginia Tech’s Logan Thomas trying to overcome accuracy knocks at Senior Bowl

jjones@charlotteobserver.comJanuary 23, 2014 

Senior Bowl North Practice

North Squad quarterback Logan Thomas of Virginia Tech (3) looks to pass during Senior Bowl practice at Ladd-Peebles Stadium, Monday, Jan. 20, 2014 in Mobile, Ala.


— NFL scouts love players with high ceilings, and when it comes to Virginia Tech quarterback Logan Thomas, there may be no one at the Senior Bowl with one that’s higher.

At 6-foot-6 and 250 pounds, Thomas has a build similar to Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton, with an arm to match. But Thomas struggled with accuracy during his senior year.

“You’ll be able to see this week, I’ll be able to make every single throw out there,” Thomas said earlier this week. “There’s not one I can’t make. For me it’s just being accurate with it, making good decisions and that’ll put me in the right direction.”

Thomas had a poor junior season and improved marginally in 2013, throwing 16 touchdowns passes and 13 interceptions with a 56.5 completion percentage for the Hokies (8-5).

In Virginia Tech’s 42-12 loss to UCLA in the Sun Bowl, Thomas went 3-for-11 for 46 yards, including one pass that went for 37 yards.

“Obviously you want things to happen, but for me I saw a huge improvement in decision-making (in 2013),” said Thomas, who likely will be a late-round pick or undrafted free agent. “Some of (the interceptions) were my fault, some were not so much my fault, some were good plays. I’m not discouraged or upset about it.

“I’d like to have better stats. You’d always like to have better stats, but I was happy with the way I played this year.”

Thomas spent the week before the Senior Bowl working with quarterback guru George Whitfield, a private instructor who has trained Newton, Andrew Luck and Johnny Manziel. Whitfield runs drills that attempt to make Thomas as uncomfortable in the pocket as possible while staying in the pocket and delivering accurate throws.

Though he hasn’t looked as erratic as he did at times at Virginia Tech, Thomas has not separated himself from Clemson’s Tajh Boyd or Miami’s Stephen Morris, the other two quarterbacks on the North team.

“The offense that we’re running is different from what they’re used to,” said Atlanta Falcons and North coach Mike Smith. “We’re spending some extra time ... getting guys to take snaps under center because the majority of the time they were in shotgun formations.

“Logan Thomas is a big, strong, more of the prototypical drop-back type of quarterback. I like his presence in the huddle. … We’ve got three guys that are going to go out and get an opportunity to play on Saturday and I’m going to try to get them an equal number of snaps.”

Kick Six: Auburn cornerback Chris Davis couldn’t talk to NFL scouts after Wednesday’s practice before he was surrounded by fans on the field at Ladd-Peebles Stadium.

One boy couldn’t muster any words while offering up a football for Davis to sign. A man had to shake his hand and thank him for what he did for Auburn. Another man, a Mississippi fan, just wanted to take a picture with Davis to send to his Alabama friend.

Davis is one of the stars at the Senior Bowl after he returned a missed field-goal attempt 109 yards for a touchdown with no time remaining to lift Auburn to a victory against Alabama in the regular-season finale.

“I’ve been asked about the kick return a lot,” Davis said. “I try to put it behind me and try to move on. I’m still chasing after a career in football.”

In a way, the play has become Davis.

“Yeah, I definitely think that,” he said. “That was one of the greatest plays in college football, and I appreciate being a part of that play. But like I said, I’m trying to move on and chase a dream.

“That’s what I’m out here to prove, that I can play corner also.”

At Auburn, Davis earned second-team All-SEC honors after finishing first in passes defended with 15 and second on the team in tackles with 74.

He’s projected to be a mid-round selection who can play cornerback and return punts. He averaged 18.7 yards per punt return in his senior year.

Davis’ biggest weakness in coverage is that he uses his hands on receivers too much.

He was flagged for pass interference in the BCS National Championship Game against Florida State on third down with 21 seconds left in the game, giving Florida State a fresh set of downs and the ball at the 2-yard line, where the Seminoles scored the game-winning touchdown with 13 seconds left (against Davis, who was defending on the scoring pass).

Wednesday at the South practice, Davis had his chance to prove to scouts he’s a top-tier cornerback prospect. With the best quarterback – Derek Carr – throwing to the best wide receiver – Jordan Matthews – at the Senior Bowl, Davis was matched up in one-on-one drills with Matthews.

Davis jammed Matthews inside 5 yards, then the two ran down the sideline as Matthews ran a go route. Davis used his hands past 5 yards on Matthews, which likely would be illegal contact in the NFL. Matthews got his hands on the ball, but Davis broke it up as Matthews tried to secure the catch.

Jones: 704-358-5323; Twitter: @jjones9

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