With Carson Palmer aging and his career winding down, there’s no doubt that the Arizona Cardinals needed to pick up a quarterback at some point during the 2014 NFL Draft. There were a lot of options at that position when the Cardinals were picking in Round 4, but they ended up making the perfect selection when they chose former Virginia Tech quarterback Logan Thomas.
The first benefit of drafting Thomas is that he’s not likely to be ready to play as a rookie, which for the Cardinals is actually a good thing. Arizona can be a playoff contender in 2014, and they’ll be a contender with Palmer at quarterback as they were last year when they won 10 games.
At this stage in his career, Palmer doesn’t need a rookie breathing down his neck, threatening to take his job away and making him think one mistake could cost him his job, and there’s no threat of that happening with Thomas.
Arizona should have two or three more years with Palmer at quarterback, and head coach Bruce Arians and the Cardinals can use that time to develop Thomas, who needs considerable work on his mechanics, decision-making, and consistency. If Thomas doesn’t develop, then all the Cardinals will have lost is a fourth-round draft pick, and they can then look to draft a more NFL-ready quarterback two or three years down the road when they’re ready to move on from Palmer.
However, in the event that Thomas does develop and improve his consistency, the Cardinals could have something special. Thomas may have the most pure talent of any quarterback in this year’s draft class, and his combination of size and athleticism fits the mold of the new breed of quarterbacks who are making a significant impact on the league, most notably Cam Newton and Colin Kaepernick.
Even though they’re fine with Palmer for the short term, the Cardinals will likely have to play in the same division as Kaepernick and Russell Wilson for many years to come, and they’re going to need a quarterback who can stack up to those two players if they hope to remain competitive in the long term.
Thomas has the ceiling to be that kind of quarterback. He has all the physical tools you could want in a quarterback; the Cardinals just have to find a way to put it all together.
There’s obviously no guarantee that Thomas is going to develop and come anywhere close to his potential. However, as a fourth-round pick, he carries little risk while having a higher upside than any other quarterback they could have taken in this year’s draft. Between that high ceiling and the fact that they don’t need him right away, Thomas was the perfect quarterback for the Cardinals in this year’s draft, and they made a great decision by taking him.