02/13/2012 - One underclass quarterback who did opt for the 2012 draft, but about whom scouts concede they must conduct plenty of due diligence, is Darron Thomas of Oregon. Thomas has very good size (estimated at 6-feet-3, 215 pounds), is regarded as a real leader, and compiled a 23-3 record as a starter for the Ducks. But he primarily played in a "spread" offense, didn't always exhibit the best judgment in the passing game, and lacked some accuracy, despite a strong arm. The decisions of some other underclass prospects to remain in school, along with a lack of senior standouts at the position, could elevate Thomas, perhaps to as high as the third or fourth round. But the truth is that many scouts, while they have seen Thomas play, didn't expect him to be in the draft. Those scouts aren't exactly starting at "square one" in their evaluations of him, but want to assess him more now as an immediate prospect, not a future one. Expect much "pitching" of Thomas, too, to emanate from his agent, Drew Rosenhaus, before the draft. - Len Pasquarelli, The Sports Xchange
Thomas posted eye-popping numbers for the University of Oregon and led the Ducks to a Rose Bowl championship in 2011. His decision to leave school with eligibility remaining was nonetheless a huge surprise because, frankly, he hasn't demonstrated the vision or accuracy to duplicate his collegiate success at the NFL level.
Thomas signed with Oregon as a highly touted prep prospect and saw action as a true freshman, nearly leading the Ducks back from a 24-point fourth-quarter deficit to beat Boise State in 2008. He redshirted in 2009 before emerging as a Second Team All-Pac-10 choice in his first season as a starter, completing 61.5 percent of his passes for 2,881 yards and 30 touchdowns against just nine interceptions.
He was even better as redshirt junior in 2011, completing 62.2 percent of his passes for 2,761 yards and a sparkling 33-7 touchdown-to-interception ratio that ranked among the best in all of college football. However, Thomas' gaudy statistics are less a function of his own talents and more about his fit in a relatively simple spread option offense that took advantage of his athleticism and touch.
Thomas has enough unique traits to warrant draft consideration but is far from a finished product. A team willing to gamble on his upside may find him tempting on the third day of the draft.
Positives: Athletic build with plenty of room for another 10-15 pounds of muscle mass. Possesses an efficient set up and delivery of the football with a clean over the top release. Mobile quarterback who can buy time in the pocket and is a threat to gain yards with his feet. Flashes good accuracy and touch on intermediate routes, especially down the seam. Possesses at least adequate arm strength. Experienced in big games. May be just scratching the surface of his potential.
Negatives: Lanky, almost skinny build more suited to playing wide receiver than quarterback in the NFL. Produced in a relatively simple one-read offense that gave him wide passing lanes and receivers generally running free from defenders. Rarely asked to make NFL-caliber stick throws or take snaps from under center. Stares down his primary option and too often panics when it has been taken away, often resorting to simply tucking the ball and running. Surprised Oregon with his decision to leave with a season of eligibility remaining and was given just a tepid endorsement from head coach Chip Kelly in the school's press release announcing the decision.