It wasn’t exactly the most exciting of games, but the Week 3 college football matchup of Marshall and Appalachian State had a surprising amount of draft implications—most specifically at quarterback.
A senior and redshirt freshman respectively, both Zac Thomas (App. State) and Grant Wells (Marshall) gave us a clearer picture of whether or not they can be future NFL players on Saturday afternoon.
We’ll start with the more disappointing performance of the two.
Although he didn’t necessarily play poorly, Thomas was extremely uninspiring on Saturday, going 22-of-38 for 268 yards with one touchdown and an interception. Struggling against pressure and lacking any sort of encouraging signs in off-script situations, both he and the entire Appalachian State offense didn’t do nearly enough throughout all four quarters, only scoring seven points in a 17-7 loss.
At his best early on when his team used a lot of play-action and bootleg designs, Thomas did show off his quality touch on a few occasions—most specifically a beautiful throw to the back pylon—but at the end of the day, it just wasn’t enough. He also had a few drops and a near connection on a deep post route that could have gone for a touchdown, but the positives mostly stopped there.
Without a strong run game for the first time in what seems like forever, Thomas couldn’t make up for it in the air, exposing his lackluster physical tools in the process. The definition of “meh”, he simply doesn’t have the requisite arm strength to push the ball safely to the boundary, and it was especially obvious on an interception toward the end of the first half.
I do like him as a priority free agent, but this game (and many others before it) have given me no reason to believe Thomas is worthy of a draft pick at this point.
Wells played better than Thomas—despite only going 11-of-25 for 163 yards and one interception—but it still wasn’t a particularly inspiring performance, either.
Falling back down to earth after an insanely good first game against Eastern Kentucky a few weeks ago (16-of-23 for 307 yards and four touchdowns), Wells played like a freshman—which he is—on Saturday, making a few questionable decisions and looking noticeably less poised under duress. His worst play probably came on the bad interception, where he tried a fake quick screen and telegraphed a throw to the sideline where the free safety easily jumped the pass.
Still, the Marshall signal-caller was able to make a few nice throws, including a dime in the end-zone that his wideout simply dropped, while also showcasing his impressive ability as a runner on numerous occasions.
With this in mind, I wouldn’t put too much stock into some of the issues Wells experienced. I'd just treat it as a talented passer experiencing some necessary ups and downs in his second-ever start.