Thomas, a 6'6", 260-pound redshirt junior from Lynchburg, Va., has been projected by Mel Kiper as a potential first-round pick, making this a difficult decision for the two-year starter.
Following a promising season in 2011, Thomas was expected to breakout in 2012 and was being considered by some as a candidate for the Heisman Trophy. Instead, Thomas struggled with inconsistency and accuracy problems, throwing 18 touchdowns and 16 interceptions.
However, despite his issues last season, NFL teams have not been turned away from his enormous potential.
Although Thomas made poor decisions while running the offense, he has the physical attributes that cannot be taught. With his imposing size, athletic ability and arm strength, Thomas has all the physical tools to be an NFL quarterback. It's these physical tools that have Thomas still being discussed as a first-round draft pick.
As Kiper has said, Thomas' physical gifts separate him from the rest of quarterback class in this draft.
"When you look at the talent, he's more talented than any quarterback that's going to be in this draft. You take any quarterback — I don't care who it is — he's more talented." - Mel Kiper, Roanoke.com
Still, Thomas knows he has significant room for improvement and he'll have to decide where he wants to make that improvement. Will it be in Blacksburg or with an NFL team?
Should Thomas return to Virginia Tech for his senior season, he will likely be playing for a new offensive coordinator. Frank Beamer has been reportedly interviewing candidates for the position over the past few weeks, increasing speculation that a change will be made with current coordinator Bryan Stinespring.
A new coordinator next season could be a positive or negative for Thomas. He could excel under a new system and restore any confidence that was lost in him during his difficult 2012 season. He could also struggle to pick up a new offense, creating even more doubt that he could succeed as an NFL quarterback.
Despite the potential risk of returning to Virginia Tech for his final season of eligibility, the positives outweigh the negatives.
Gaining experience as a third-year starter for the Hokies and working on studying the game to improve his decision making gives him an opportunity to improve his stock tremendously for the 2014 NFL Draft. Instead of hoping he makes the top 25 of this year's draft, he has the potential to be picked in the top five of next year's draft.
Ultimately, Thomas has to make the decision that is best for him and his family. But he sure could use another season in Blacksburg. And the Hokies sure could use him.
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