He wasn't even picked to be Carson Palmer's backup.
But a year from now, the Cardinals may have a starting quarterback who'll be a refined, polished version of the man drafted 120th overall. That's what can happen after Thomas, the former Virginia Tech quarterback, spends a year on the bench under the tutelage of Palmer, Cardinals coach Bruce Arians and assistant coach Tom Moore.
"I think it's completely just learning how to be a professional in general," Thomas said.
"I have the opportunity to sit back, watch and learn, and learn from a guy who's been in the league for a good amount of time and has had a lot of success in the league as well. I really have the opportunity to learn. And learning at this age is something anybody needs and then once I get my shot is when you really start moving forward."
Thomas was one of few players in this draft who fit the mold of an Arians-style quarterback. He's 6-foot-6 and 250 pounds with "probably one of the strongest arms in the last 10 years," Arians said last week. The physical tools to be a starter are there, but Thomas isn't ready to be handed the keys to an offense just yet. His accuracy has come under scrutiny, not just by so-called experts, but Thomas as well.
He's the ideal project for Arians, who worked out Thomas in April at Virginia Tech. Accuracy and vision is something Arians can fix. Height, speed and arm strength, however, can't be taught.
But Thomas isn't a weekend project. His off-target percentage was 25 percent his last two seasons at Virginia Tech. During that stretch, his QBR was 47.6. For perspective, the top 10 quarterbacks ranked by Scouts Inc. all had a QBR of more than 60 since the start of the 2012 season. Some of that had to do with the fact Thomas had three different offensive coordinators in as many years. Each had their own philosophy and asked for different things. Arians understood that and has referred to Thomas' success during his sophomore season.
Through the smokescreens put out by Arians and Cardinals general manager, however a piece of truth could be pieced together. They weren't about to draft a quarterback in the fourth round or later who couldn't overtake either Drew Stanton or Ryan Lindley. Thomas has the ability to do both, although winning the third-string job is more likely to start the season.
Arians' offense best runs with a quarterback the size of Thomas who has similar mobility. Look at Ben Roethlisberger, a young Peyton Manning and Andrew Luck. All have the size and feet to get out of trouble and make plays with their legs.
Thomas might be a better physical specimen than all of them. Now, it's about refining the football part of him.
"I think it kinda shows he's willing to work with a guy and build him up and create him into a pretty much a monster in the way they play football," Thomas said. "For me, I couldn't have gone into a better situation. I'm very blessed."