The Titans just made their pick and they go with Jake Locker number 8 overall in a surprise early in the draft. I had him going number 12 to the Vikings, but I think the situation he is going into could be perfect for him. He has some work to do, but apparently his choice to come back didn't cost him so much as everyone has expected.
Jake Locker joined the Huskies about 5 years ago and the talk was that he was going to lead the program back to the promise land...The Rose Bowl. Everyone thought that he was the second coming, giving him the nick name of the Montlake Messiah as well as Jake Jesus Locker...Check out his wikipedia page, in the first sentence about his college life it says he was dubbed the savior of the program. Jake himself would be the last person to talk about himself in this sense, he is a humble hard-working guy who appears to only want to improve. That being said he was on several awful Huskies teams where he got little to no help. His first 2 years he spent running for his life behind a terrible offensive line. His second two years he had an improved line but turned into a pro-style quarterback under Steve Sarkesian. After his Junior year the entire country thought he was going pro, and he would be a top pick in the draft. But he decided to stay one more year. In his final year he led the Huskies to a 7-6 record..including their first bowl games in years. Something he should be should be proud of...but that doesn't mean he is going to turn into a top flight pro QB, or even close to that...
As I mentioned, he was slotted to be a top pick in the draft had he declared last year...or maybe he wasn't going to be a top pick, or even a first round pick...The reason that the nation thought he would be going that high in the draft was because ESPN, especially Todd McShay and Mel Kiper who said he was going to go that high...I am not going to pick a fight with McShay or Kiper at all, I am sure he did think that Locker would be the top pick in the draft, but I have heard from a reliable source that it wasn't the case. My source explained to me that before underclassmen declare, organizations go through the prospects and say when they would likely draft a player. Locker was not going to be picked in the first round by any team in football according to my source...Yes things change with the combine and workouts, but I have a feeling that the owners telling Locker he wasn't such a high pick led him to go back to Washington. Lockers wouldn't be the only recent QB overrated by ESPN...A similar situation happened with Jimmy Claussen, who Kiper said was a top 5 pick, but he fell deep into the second round of the draft...That wouldn't happen if the NFL viewed him as a top 5 player.
Back to Locker though...He has all of the intangibles that coaches drool over, especially Josh McDaniels (Look where that got him). But the only measurable skills Locker has helping him at the NFL level is his speed. He is a fast and powerful runner, but how many QB's run in the NFL? The only one who does it consistently is Michael Vick, who is just a freakish athlete and is much faster than Locker. Yes some others will scramble around and run occasionally, but if a QB's strength is their running prowess, they likely won't make it in the league. Locker has a pretty strong arm as well, but overthrowing receivers by 10 yards on a consistent basis isn't going to get him the starting job. Locker has shown time and time again he lacks any accuracy on both his long throws and his short throws...That is a death sentence in the NFL.
The majority of NFL routes are timing routes where the QB has to get the ball out at the right moment, PLUS it has to be in the right spot. Neither of those things are in Lockers repertoire, meaning he can't make the majority of the throws needed in the NFL. Think about a 10 yard out route, or a 10 yard outside hitch. Locker drops back looking one way trying to look off the secondary (Something I will get into)...then turns back and throws the ball to his receiver, the likelihood things go wrong are HUGE...yes that is the case for all QB's, but the majority of NFL quarterbacks are accurate passers which highly lowers the chances of something going wrong. When a QB's weakness is accuracy it basically will doom him, because NFL defensive backs are too good not to capitalize on poor throws. Accuracy isn't something that can be taught either. It can be improved yes, but Locker isn't even close to where he will need to be.
Locker made poor decisions throughout his career as a Husky yet some think he will be able to be smart enough to still use the tools he has in order to succeed, seems illogical to me. He has poor footwork, poor ability to look off defenders and he is very incapable of recognizing when to tuck and run and when to pass. He likes to lock onto his receiver, which he could get away with at the college level, but that won't work when someone like Ed Reed is watching and waiting to intercept any pass thrown...Even think back to the first game against Nebraska, those quality DB's were able to jump all over his throws. Locker also wouldn't tuck and run the ball even when he had enough room to get a first down or a touch down...sometimes he ran and it was productive, but often times he tried to pass when he had a running lane and no one to throw to.
Oddly though ESPN seems to think that he is an accurate passer and his only true negatives are his durability and decision making. While I agree those are down-sides, after watching 4 years of Locker he is not an accurate passer.
For UW it seemed as if Locker was throwing fade routes or dumps for the majority of his senior season. If Locker was such a good QB I would expect them to utilize him rather than expect their receivers to go make plays. Fade routes are basically jump balls where all the QB has to do is make a decent throw and let his guy go to work. Any QB should be able to make those throws, and Locker even struggled with those, often times throwing them too far outside and out of bounds.
Locker's completion percentage his senior year was 55.4 percent...that is an awful number...even if you give him the benefit of the doubt that he had no time to throw or no one to throw to, he was unable to make the majority of the throws during the season. Heck look at his game against Nebraska in the Holiday Bowl, he had no completions in the first half! He finished the game 5 of 16! Yes they won the game, but that was on the defense and Chris Polk, not Locker. A guy who is supposed to be a first round pick at QB should be the guy a team can lean on in big games, Locker was not that guy and will never be that guy.
I thank Locker for helping Washington get some national attention, but he never really won anything. His record as a QB was 15-25 for Washington. He had 4 game winning drives led, but also had several stinkers of games. That is not what I could call a savior of a program nor a top draft prospect ... I hope him the best in the NFL..Go prove me wrong Jake! I even think a team will take a shot on him in round one of the draft...but I believe that he will either have to change positions to avoid becoming a total bust in the NFL.