Jake Locker is a coaches player.
It’s an opinion based only on 2010 tape, a year in which the Washington quarterback was scrutinised, criticised and pulled apart. It comes with the territory of returning for your senior year, when evaluators expect to see a finished product and have further basis for nitpicking.
There were some extremely poor performances from Locker (Nebraska part one, UCLA), some very good performances (USC, Oregon State) and the occasional write-off (Stanford).
We’ve all seen the reports – a lack of accuracy, robotic mechanics, inability to improvise combined with obvious physical talent and upside. Nobody is prepared to come forward and say they’d risk a top-15 pick on the guy, a far cry from 12 months ago when he was touted as a likely top-ten prospect.
People scoff and laugh at that suggestion now and claim it was never likely to happen. I often wonder whether we’d be saying the same things about Mark Sanchez or Blaine Gabbert as potential top-five picks had they stayed in college.
With less than three weeks to go I would expect the vast majority of teams in the NFL don’t have a first round grade on Jake Locker. I suspect some won’t have him any higher than a round 3-5 prospect. Some teams won’t see him as the most talented senior prospect coming out of Washington this year.
But some teams will grade him highly and I think it’ll be those that have coaches with authority potentially showing that interest.
Coaches will be able to work directly with Locker to try and tap into the upside. Not every head coach or offensive coordinator will rate him, but those who do will thrive on the opportunity to develop his potential. General managers may be more cautious, concentrating perhaps more on the reasons not to draft the guy and looking at completion percentage and win/loss records. Once the decision to draft a guy has been made, their involvement pretty much ends when it’s over to the coaches. If the person making the decision can work with the prospect directly, I suspect you’d be more willing to take a chance on upside.
The perfect comparison is last year when Tim Tebow went 25th overall to the Denver Broncos, who traded back into round one to draft the Florida quarterback. Nothing about Tebow mechanically or as a passer warranted a first round grade, yet he had an x-factor reputation earned through an illustrious career with the Gators. Some teams won’t have ever entertained the prospect of drafting Tebow that early, others will have given it serious consideration. Josh McDaniels controlled the Broncos draft board during his two year stint as coach and pulled the trigger on his guy.
Locker hasn’t got the brilliant college career and success that Tebow had, but he’s also a much more orthodox quarterback with an over the top, quick release. As with Tebow a lot of teams will be scared off by inaccuracy or mechanical problems, but there will absolutely be others who can’t wait to take the chance on him working out as a NFL starter.
Just like McDaniels in Denver, it’ll probably be a team where the coach has final say.
This is the main reason I continue to mock Locker to Washington at #10. Mike Shanahan has been given control by Dan Snyder to do it his way. Locker is also the perfect scheme fit for the Shanahan offense.
Donovan McNabb wasn’t benched on a whim. This was a veteran quarterback who cost the Redskins considerable draft stock, fresh into a new contract. Benching McNabb was a clear signal that Washington would be drafting a quarterback early.
I doubt Denver/McDaniels were the only suitors interested in Tim Tebow and the same will probably be true of Locker. If I’m right and Washington do end up having serious interest in drafting the Huskies QB 10th overall, the question becomes whether anyone will be willing to trade up to usurp the Redskins?
Will Minnesota, Miami or Jacksonville be surprise candidates? I’m not convinced.
Back in December I wondered whether the Seahawks and Redskins would be draft rivals. A lot has changed since then, with Seattle making the playoffs and ending up with the #25 pick. As discussed yesterday trading into the top ten would likely cost at least the #25, #57 and a 2012 second round pick – a huge price I don’t expect they’ll be willing to pay.
Even so I wouldn’t rule it out and just like the Redskins and Broncos, the Seahawks are a team where a coach holds the final decision.