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Sunday, January 23, 2011

Jake Locker Scouting Report

Jake Locker, QB, Washington, 6'3, 230 lbs

Size / Arm Strength: 10  Prototypical size for an NFL QB, Locker has a nice, muscular build. Locker packs a cannon of an arm, the arm strength needed to be an elite NFL quarterback. Strong bodied runner who displays a deceptive strength through contact. Can hit all areas of the field, and Locker can throw the deep post/corner routes with effectiveness.

Accuracy: 7  – Accuracy has been sporadic; great at times, awful others. Locker throws with pinpoint accuracy outside of the pocket, when flushed or on designed rollouts, but the fact remains that he has not been able to consistently throw with accuracy from within the pocket. I feel this is more of a product of the players he is playing around, rather than his inability. At times will miss wide open receivers. When comfortable in the pocket, has great ball placement, keeping the football away from defenders. Able to put the ball in tightly contested windows because of rifle arm and ball placement.

Throwing Mechanics/Footwork: 8 – Locker's throwing motion is mechanically sound. Generally does not overstride on deep throws, gets the ball out with a quick release, and his hips generate a ton of throwing velocity. Hips, athleticism, and release are easily seen when Locker works the short and screen passing game. When he climbs the pocket, he has shown the ability to really drive the football down the middle of the field. 

Windup is quick and efficient, no wasted movement, and Locker rips through the ball. Ball really shoots out of his hand, once again, strong arm and excellent velocity.

Sets and fires quickly and accurately in the short passing game; Hybrid QB that I envision changes the dynamics of the WCO to suit his personal strengths (obviously consisting of short-intermediate and screen game, but also add QB designed runs, and also deep attacking rollout throws).

Footwork within the pocket is inconsistent at best, doesn't always plant and deliver. Jumpy feet in the pocket, and really presses the issue when faced with a pass rush. Footwork outside the pocket on designed rollouts is actually quite impressive, keeping balance and fluidly shifting his hips into position. Best rollout passer heading the 2011 QB draft class.

Mobility/Athleticism: 10 - Very mobile quarterback, Locker has elite speed for any position. A 4.4's 4.5's runner in the 40 yard dash, Locker has the acceleration to reach top speed quickly, and his low center of gravity allows him to avoid and/or break tackles. Extremely fast and explosive, a playmaker whose ability to avoid the rush rivals even the unstoppable Cam Newton, Heisman winner and BCS National Champion. At his best when throwing on the run, moving the pocket, and utilizing his physical attributes. 

Intangibles/Decision-Making: 8 – A 4 year starter, Locker became the face of the Huskies football team; a leader on and off the field, Locker seems to be a great locker room presence. Having spent 2 years under Steve Sarkisian, a well profiled QB coach, Locker has a high football IQ and is devoted inside the film room. He is the hardest worker on his team and a constant competitor, even in defeat.

Decision making is a question mark. Locker forces the issue when faced with pressure, leading to ill advised turnovers. Gets away with some throws that will be picked off in the NFL. Has a really hard time handling long pass reads, doesn't allow routes to develop. Limited field vision.

Has an edge about him; the football savvy/mentality of a Phillip Rivers. Able to fight through adversity/injury, and has the fortitude to put the team on his back.  

Production: 8   – Locker burst onto the scene as a freshman, rushing for 13 TDs and throwing for 14 TDs. However his interceptions outnumbered his TDs, throwing 15 INTs. Locker continually progressed the next few years, lowering his interception rate, increasing his passing touchdowns, and completing a higher percentage of passes. Considered the top candidate for the top overall pick in the 2010 NFL Draft, Locker decided to return to school and finish his career at Washington. A bad decision to say the least, Locker suffered from a weak supporting cast. His touchdowns dropped from 21 his junior season, to 17 this past season, while his interception rate decreased from 11 his junior season, to 9 this past season. 

Best fit: A team with a coaching staff that is great with the development of young quarterbacks, and is committed to his success in the NFL. Buffalo to me is not a good fit at all, seeing how he would have similar receiving options and another porous offensive line. Seattle to me is the best fit, as Pete Carroll has a history in producing QBs at USC. Their style of a West Coast Offense, which attacks a defense with short pass game, quick hitting screens, and rollouts, suits Locker's skill set well. Also the offensive line is developing with potential to be good, and he would have a bevy of young receiving options in TE John Carlson and WRs Mike Williams, Ben Obumanu, and Golden Tate.

X-Factor: Can Jake Locker convince teams that his unique skill set will translate into immediate NFL success? Or will teams see him as a player needing an extended period of development? This alone will determine the draft range of Locker, but even more of a factor is how teams view the other quarterbacks in the draft.

Each of the next top 3 QBs pegged as possible first rounders (Gabbert, Newton, and Mallet), has their own unique problem or cause for concern. Here is a quick synopsis of their weaknesses.

Gabbert to me, has an issue climbing the pocket, keeping his poise in the pocket under pressure, and is unable to consistently extend a broken play. That ability of extending the play is a must in the NFL nowadays. Don't get me wrong, he has mobility and speed, but struggles to extend the play.

Cam Newton has character issues; with the illegal solicitation by his father and also being labeled by some NFL scouts as having a "Me personality". I am a die hard Auburn fan (my father is alumni, and my family lives in Alabama), however I am not ignorant of these very real concerns. This combined with his unpolished footwork inside the pocket, will pose real concerns to NFL organizations.
Ryan Mallett has character concerns that may be blown out of proportion or actually just hidden for the moment. Mallet aside from those issues, has a huge problem when faced with pressure. His big frame is unable to reset his feet and avoid the rush. Also trusts him arm strength too much, throwing into highly contested windows. Reminds me of Jay Cutler in a way.

I do not have the resources or the facts to establish these claims of character concerns, but NFL teams are sure to have done their own investigative work. Thus both Mallett's and Newton's draft stock is going to be determined based on these NFL team's findings. 

I believe Jake Locker's issues to be more easily corrected, and at the same time, feel he is the most talented quarterback in the draft.

Where he will be picked: Late 1st/ Early 2nd Round

Where he should be picked: 1st Round

NFL Comparison: John Elway, Denver Broncos

Extra Notes: On the Elway comparison, I am not trying to just throw Jake Locker into the HOF automatically. By no means do I mean that. Rather I would like to just remark that his innate athleticism, physical strengths, and overall work ethic, make it a distinct possibility that he could become a very good NFL QB. Elway is one in a million...But his NFL career didn't exactly start off smoothly....He worked his craft, devoted himself to success, and overcame a lot of adversity in becoming one of the great QBs of all time. Jake Locker similarly will have a long way to go, in terms of developing into an elite level quarterback.

Here are some interesting facts: 

1) Locker and Elway have similar athletic ability, mobility, and arm strength

Jake Locker runs a reported 4.4 40 yd dash (more than likely a 4.5); John Elway ran a 4.6...

Both were characterized in college as having outstanding arm strength, but inconsistent accuracy. Both players had similar issues with interceptions; Locker- evident in college and Elway- evident in the pro's. "Gunslinger mentality"

2) Both played in the Pac-10, had similar win-loss records, and lack of success in terms of bowl wins.

John Elway played for Stanford, Jake Locker for Washington

John Elway was 20-23 as a starter, and Jake Locker was 15-24; both losing records.

The two combined for only 1 bowl game victory; Jake Locker the only one of the two with even a bowl appearance, let alone a bowl win.

3) John Elway was listed as 6'3, 215 lbs; Jake Locker is currently listed as 6'3, 230 lbs....

Jake Locker Junior season highlights

Jake Locker Senior season highlights

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