Lions excited about second shot with 'tough guy' TE Logan Thomas

Justin Rogers
The Detroit News
Logan Thomas

Phoenix — When Logan Thomas decided to stop playing quarterback and try his hand at becoming a tight end, the Detroit Lions were the first in line to give him an opportunity, signing him to the team's practice squad in November 2016.

The pairing lasted all of a day, before he was poached by the Buffalo Bills, who were equally intrigued by his potential. Three years later, the Lions and a more experienced Thomas will give it another go. The team signed him to a one-year deal earlier this month. 

"I remember having him in my office trying to convince him to stay on our practice squad," Lions general manager Bob Quinn said. "But usually, 99 percent of those go the other way. ... I always kind of circled back and watched him the last couple years in Buffalo and thought it was a good second-wave guy to kind of add depth to that position. We don’t think he’s hit his ceiling. We think he’s still got some room to improve at, both in the run and pass game."

The Lions are in the midst of overhauling the team's tight end room. Last year's group — headed by Luke Willson, Levine Toilolo and Michael Roberts — underwhelmed, combining for 45 catches for 461 yards and four touchdowns. 

Willson and Toilolo remain unsigned this offseason. Detroit, meanwhile, agreed to a long-term deal with Pittsburgh's Jesse James on the first day teams could negotiate with free agents. At 25, he already has 56 games and 36 starts under his belt. 

Thomas was added a few days later.

A college quarterback who spent his first few years in the NFL fighting for backup jobs, he opted to make the switch to tight end in the middle of the 2016 season.

At 6-foot-6, 250 pounds, Thomas had the frame and athleticism that was sure to intrigue some teams. At the scouting combine in 2014, Thomas ran the 40-yard dash in 4.61 seconds, while posting a 35.5-inch vertical and 9-foot-11 broad jump. Those numbers are nearly identical to those posted by Eric Ebron, who the Lions took No. 10 overall that draft. 

In three seasons with the Bills, Thomas caught 19 passes for 144 yards and a score, while developing his blocking skills. He also played significant special teams snaps for the Bills last season. 

"Tough guy," Lions coach Matt Patricia said. "Played for a guy, Brian Daboll, who I worked with before. So kind of that same mentality — a gritty, grind-it-out kid. Loves the game. Extremely athletic."

Patricia also joked that Thomas opens the playbook for a possible trick play. 

"He can throw it a little bit too, so you never know when one of those plays will come up," Patricia said.