Friday, April 29, 2011

Jeff Lindquist to Washington? The day after Jake Locker is taken number 8

Jake Worthen of is reporting that Jeff Lindquist, the Mercer Island quarterback is headed to Washington to play for Steve Sarkisian and the Huskies. He had said he was going to announce on May first, but apparently he decided early and his choice is Washington. It is a little bit curious that he chose the day after Jake Locker was taken in the top 10 of the NFL draft.

He must like what Sarkisian was able to do to the draft stock of Locker and wants the same for himself. The 4 star QB was deciding between Washington and Stanford, but Washington ended up winning out.

This will make for an interesting next few years as the Huskies are in the middle of a QB battle between Nick Montana and Keith Price, but chances are that Lindquist will come in and compete for playing time right away.

This is huge for the Huskies and leaves the Cardinal looking elsewhere for the heir to Andrew Luck. For Washington, they may have found the future at QB, while he is a little late to step right in for Locker, he looks like he will be able to fill the shoes just fine.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Jake Locker...Overrated or Over-criticized? Tennessee Titans seem to think Over-Criticized

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.

NFL Mock Draft, Will Locker be drafted in round one?

With time ticking down until the first pick will come in I have decided it's time for me to throw in my first round mock draft. It's a little late coming, but what better time to get the picks in than right before, at least it won't be late like the Minnesota Vikings in 2003. So without further adieu, here is my mock draft:

1. Carolina Panthers: Cam Newton, QB Auburn
He's number one everywhere, but I just don't see how the Panthers could pass him up. Yeah they have Jimmy Claussen but Newton is a winner and is too much of a fan favorite to pass up. I don't see him as a star in the pros, but I think he is decent, expect him to be something on the level of David Garrard...maybe that comparison is a little easy seeing as they are both African-American Qb's?

2. Denver Broncos: Von Miller, LB Texas A&M
The Broncos have to go with the best available pick right here. Miller isn't the top player in the draft, Patrick Peterson is, but Denver has one of the best corners in the game in Champ Bailey. Miller adds a dynamic pass rushing ability to a team that had just 23 sacks total last season. He could play the Sam linebacker or Defensive end which gives him even more value at the next level.

3. Buffalo Bills: Marcell Dareus, DT, Alabama
He's big and strong and a safe pick at number three. The Bills are a long way away from being a contender, but they can start by using this pick to add someone to the middle of their 3-4 defensive scheme. Dareus is a guy who can do it all, stop the run, pressure the passer and even move to the defensive end spot if needed.

4. Cincinnati Bengals: Patrick Peterson, CB, LSU
He has the highest upside of any player in the draft and the Bengals need someone to help them make plays. They have no QB so drafting a receiver doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me at this spot. Peterson fits in with the Bengals defense as he's big and strong, but also might be the fastest player in the draft after running a 4.3 40 at the combine.

5. Arizona Cardinals: Blaine Gabbert, QB Missouri
The threat of a repeat of Matt Leinert might scare the Cardinals away from making this pick, but they are in dire need of someone to run their offense. They have a strong receiving corp, good young running backs, and a good offensive line, but no one to play QB. They could go defense and wait on a QB, but I think Gabbert is the pick at number 5.

6. Cleveland Browns: Julio Jones, WR Auburn
I think that A.J. Green is the better receiver of the two, but the Browns had a big guy names Braylon Edwards who failed them in the past. They make the move and go with Jones and grab a speedy guy who makes an immediate impact in the passing game and the return game. He has Monster upside written all over him.

7. San Francisco 49ers: Nick Fairley, DT Auburn
After hoping Gabbert would fall to them the 49ers are going to have to go with the top player on defense and that is Fairley. He has some issues, but the whole world watched him go out and basically win a national championship for the Crimson Tide. He will help an already strong defense and the 49ers will have to wait on finding a QB.

8. Tennessee Titans: A.J. Green, WR Georgia
The Titans have Chris Johnson on offense, but when he's been bottled up they haven't had anywhere else to turn to. They get a gift with Green slipping all the way to 8. He is the real deal and with the problems surrounding Randy Moss, Green will fill in and be a playmaker for a team that needs someone who can work outside.

9. Dallas Cowboys: Tyron Smith, OT USC
The Cowboys have all of the playmakers they need, but it's the two lines they can't seem to figure out. Jerry Jones makes the smart call and decides it isn't fantasy football anymore and goes with the unsexy pick of Smith.

10. Washington Redskins: Da'Quan Bowers, DE Clemson
The Redskins have had troubles with Albert Haynseworth, but if he can get his act together the defensive line for the Skins would be a dominant part of their team with Bowers rushing around the edge. He has some injury questions, but he could be a star if he stays healthy.

11. Houston Texans: Prince Amukamara, CB Nebraska
One of the worst secondaries in the league last year has to do something about it. They would like to move up and get Peterson, but if that doesn't work out they have to address the need right here and get the second best Corner in the draft.

12. Minnesota Vikings: Jake Locker, QB Washington
I talked a lot about Locker here, but the more I think and watch, he has too much upside to turn down. He has the intangibles and the speed that the Vikings will have trouble passing over him. They could be one player like Locker away from being a Super Bowl winner in a few years. He goes from Purple to Purple, I am not saying he will be an All-Pro, but he won't be slipping as some analyst may think.

13. Detroit Lions: Anthony Castonzo, OT Boston College
The Lions would have loved for Smith to fall to them, but with him not there they still need to make a move and get help along the offensive line. If either Amukamara or Smith are available at this spot the Lions take them, but I don't expect that so they will settle for the number 2 O-lineman on the board.

14. St. Louis Rams: Corey Liuget, DT Illinois
The Rams are a much improved team on offense and this pick begins their work on the defensive side of the ball. Liuget is a player who plays with a high motor and is always after the football. He would be a beast in the middle and could be the key to the Rams winning the NFC West.

15. Miami Dolphins: Mike Pouncey, OG/C Florida
He would join a line that is solid on the outside, but the interior has had some holes recently. The Dolphins are a team that has been much better in recent years than they were about 5 years ago and thats because they build form the core. This continues on that line of thinking and they will try to win games in the trenches.

16. Jacksonville Jaguars: Robert Quinn, DE/OLB UNC
After missing 2010 his draft stock takes a hit, but he will be a good pass rusher with his blend of size and speed. The Jaguars get a gift here because Quinn has top 10 talent, but he slips to them at 16.

17. New England Patriots: Cameron Jordan, DE California
Bill Belichick wants his team to be smart and thats what Jordan would bring to the table alongside his great frame and athleticism. He will fit in with their 3-4 scheme on the end and should be productive on one of the better defenses in the league.

18. San Diego Chargers: Muhammad Wilkerson, DT Temple
He's a perfect fit in the middle of the line for the 3-4 scheme of the Chargers. He came out early and was able to rise this spring into the first round. He has top 10 talent and had he waited a year to come out would have been fighting for a spot in the top 5.

19. New York Giants: Aldon Smith, DE/OLB Missouri
He still has some development to do, which makes him the perfect fit with the Giants. They are solid on the defensive line and have good ends, but they are aging. Smith will fit in as an End in their 3-4 scheme and could become a major pass rusher with his major athleticism and speed.

20. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Ryan Kerrigan, DE Purdue
He is a tough guy to project position wise, but has a knack for getting to the football and getting tackles for a loss. Whether he ends up at defensive end or OLB, he will make plays at the next level. The Bucs are in need of someone like Kerrigan to rush the passer on the outside and the value here is very strong.

21. Kansas City Chiefs: Nate Solder, OT Colorado
The Chiefs are all about running the football and they already have one of the best offensive lines in football. They have a hole at right tackle which is where Solder will come in and play right away. His addition will help an already dominant running game. 

22. Indianapolis Colts: Gabe Carimi, OT Wisconsin
Someone has to protect the most valuable player in all of football right? That's gotta be the primary focus of the Colts on offense. A possible addition of Mark Ingram could happen, but their offensive line is important if they want their offense to be one of the best in the league. Manning with time is unstoppable.

23. Philadelphia Eagles: Jimmy Smith, CB Colorado
Smith is rated as the number two guy by a lot of teams, ahead of Prince. He had some questions about character issues, which have kind of gone away, but where else should he accepted than the team that welcomed Michael Vick into town?

24. New Orleans Saints: Mark Ingram, RB Alabama
There are some questions about his speed, but with Pierre Thomas and Reggie Bush, Ingram could come in and be a perfect fit for a three headed running attack. The Saints were down badly in the playoffs with injuries at runningback and Ingram seems like a good fit for a team with an already dynamic offense.

25. Seattle Seahawks: Andy Dalton, QB TCU
Don't get locked into this pick, I think the Seahawks will do whatever they can to move away from this spot. They will move back and pick up several picks. If they take Dalton he will fit in nicely, he has some mobility, not a lot, but he appears to be almost NFL ready, give him one year behind Matt Hasslebeck and he should be ready to go.

26. Baltimore Ravens: Brooks Reed, DE/OLB Arizona
The Ravens are getting older on the defensive side of the ball, adding Reed would give them flexibility and an athletic playmaker along their front 7. He would be able to step in right away and help a defense that is strong, but has been less dynamic in recent years.

27. Atlanta Falcons: Danny Watkins, OG Baylor
The Falcons are pretty well set around their team, they could use some help along their defensive front 7, but their O-Line needs to be their bread and butter. Watkins is ready to play right away and will help the Falcons in the running game as well as give Matt Ryan time to throw in the pocket.

28. New England Patriots: Akeem Ayers, OLB UCLA
The Patriots are the only team with 2 picks in round one and they go defense twice. This pick as all about upside. Ayers was a top 5 pick early after the season ended, but slipped. Under the strong coaching in New England he could flourish into one of the better linebackers in the league.

29. Chicago Bears: Adrian Clayborn, DE Iowa
He fits more as a 4-3 defensive end, but I see the Bears taking him and using him in their 3-4 scheme on the end. He is a big strong kid with the ability to stop the run, but put some pressure on the QB. The Bears need help on the interior of their defensive line and he could move there, but his size alone will be important for the Bears defense.

30. New York Jets: J.J. Watt, DE Wisconsin 
New York is a great fit for Watt who is a big strong end, but he has elite pass rushing ability. They get one of the biggest D-End prospects from the draft and fill a need at the same time. The value with this pick is huge for them.

31. Pittsburgh Steelers: Derek Sherrod, OR Mississippi State
He is not the typical lineman the Steelers would go after, but they need to get an offensive tackle at this spot. He is the best available and could develop in time. He has good technique and is in the right place at the right time.

32. Green Bay Packers: Cameron Heyward, DE Ohio State
They have a need on the outside of their defensive line and Heyward is the best pick there at this point. If someone else slips to this spot, like Watt they could go after him. The Packers could also go after Ayers if he is available, this pick is difficult because a lot happens in one round.