Nebraska re-match offers Locker more than redemption

December 6th, 2010 | Written by Rob Staton

Locker - back in the mock tomorrow

On the 18th September, Jake Locker’s draft stock took a major hit.

Nebraska 56-21 Washington.

Locker: 4/20 passing for 71 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions.

This wasn’t the first time a team or a quarterback had been smothered by Nebraska’s ferocious defense. It won’t be the last. However – this day did a lot to shift Jake Locker from potential #1 overall draft pick in 2011 to border line first rounder.

It wasn’t all on Locker. Washington’s offensive line – not unusually – struggled under heavy pressure. Receivers couldn’t get open and Nebraska’s offense couldn’t stop scoring. We also saw what concerns scouts the most about Locker – decision making, a lack of poise and accuracy.

His first pick was made under no pressure – a deep ball thrown foolishly into double coverage. His second was a bad decision – a forced throw returned for six points.

It’s not a game that stands alone on the 2010 schedule. Locker struggled badly against Stanford (7/14 for 64 yards and two pick) and UCLA (10/21 for 68 yards and one pick). All three games happened under the national gaze and only one (vs UCLA) ended in victory.

Locker and Washington did enough to get to 6-6 – which seemed unlikely a few weeks ago. Now they get a shot at redemption when they face 10-3 Nebraska in the Holiday Bowl.

The game doesn’t take place until December 30th. There’s plenty of time to prepare, rest and plot a road to a much improved performance. Nebraska aren’t the force Washington experienced in September and have lost significant momentum in three defeats when an unbeaten season appeared attainable.

It’s Locker’s last chance to put a solid game on tape against a good defense. A platform to grasp needed momentum ahead of a busy period of work outs, combines and interviews.

I’ve left Locker out of my last two first round mock drafts. He’ll return tomorrow in my latest update. That’s not because of anything witnessed in Saturday’s Apple Cup victory over Washington State. It’s merely because – when all is said and done – this is a quarterback league.

You look at the character, the physical qualities, the mobility and the potential – they are the plus points. He wouldn’t be the first quarterback in the history of the draft to be taken early despite serious accuracy problems. There are enough teams in need of a quarterback to guarantee all four of Andrew Luck, Cam Newton, Ryan Mallett and Locker an early exit on draft day.

The last quarterback who divided opinion so much was the guy losing to Seattle on Sunday – Jimmy Clausen.

Some commended his numbers and his experience of a ‘pro-style’ offense under Charlie Weiss. He tumbled deep into round two and I see a situation where he’s not even on Carolina’s roster next year.

Harsh, but a possibility. The Panthers will make major changes to their franchise in the off season and will draft Andrew Luck given the opportunity.

There are significant differences between Clausen and Locker. In Notre Dame’s offense it was all high percentage, low risk throws. A funky release and below-average arm never leant itself to a high first round pick. Then you throw in talk of character concerns.

Locker’s release, physical qualities and character are far superior to Clausen. The ceiling is much higher. Much more is asked of Locker in Washington’s system than ever was of Clausen – who was throwing to Michael Floyd and Golden Tate. Both prospects experienced play behind a sub-standard offensive line.

The accuracy issues with Locker are a concern for his pro-prospects and may prove to be his downfall. That’s the risk one team will take. I do not see, however, reason to believe (as of today) that they’ll lead to a similar fall that Clausen experienced.

3 Responses to “Nebraska re-match offers Locker more than redemption”

  1. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by BVM, Rob Staton. Rob Staton said: Jake Locker's shot at redemption and why he's still a first round pick: http://seahawksdraftblog.com/?p=878 [...]

  2. Kelly says:

    Rob

    Welcome back. I hope you are refreshed and ready to go as we near the off season.

    I have a couple questions for you…

    1. If Clausen becomes available, is it possible to see Clausen come to Seattle to compete for a starting job? How about Carson Palmer?

    2. Will the lockout effect the 2011 NFL draft, or will the NFL act as if its a non issue come draft day.

    3. Looking back at the 2009 NFL draft, when Pete Carrol wasn’t yet around, do you think Sanchez would have been the ideal pick over Aaron Curry, or do you stand by that pick?

    Let me know your thoughts…

    • Rob says:

      Hi Kelly,

      1. I think Clausen in Seattle is unlikely. I’m not overly optomistic about his NFL prospects. I always thought he was limited physically and dependant on a lot of high percentage, low risk passes. He’s so easy to read. Tatupu’s touchdown was all about reading his eyes, knowing he’s going to dump it off a lot and eventually being able to judge it and get the pick. Carolina will draft a quarterback first overall next April – Andrew Luck. It wouldn’t surprise me if Clausen is cut shortly after. His face didn’t fit with a lot of teams – nearly everyone passed. He could be another Brian Brohm as a 2nd rounder who many expected to go in R1 who struggles. He isn’t a good scheme fit for the Seahawks. His trade stock is worthless the day Carolina drafts Luck.

      2. If there’s a lockout confirmed before the deadline to declare in January it could affect the draft. Does an Andrew Luck or Da’Quan Bowers chose a year of football over money and a year with their feet up? It’s hard to tell. If a lockout is confirmed, it’s likely the pay scale will remain for one more year. Prospects staying in school could miss out on a LOT of money for an extra year of college ball. I’m not sure it’s worth the risk – both financially or with injury. We’ll see. The odds say one or two guys will go back to college, the rest will still declare. As for other issues within the NFL for the draft – it’d still take place as normal and nothing much would change in that respect.

      3. I never liked the Curry pick so it’s hard for me to stand by it. I had Curry in the 15-20 range as a prospect. This is a guy who had nine sacks in four years, wasn’t asked to rush the passer and was standing so deep behind the LOS for Wake Forest. He had a third round grade from the draft committee for the 2008 draft. It was a ridiculous choice because the team had to create a hole by trading Julian Peterson to create room for Curry – all the while leaving other (more crucial) positions untouched. Would Carroll have picked Sanchez? Not sure – he knew MS better than anyone. It might have created too much of a USC pact. I think Michael Crabtree may have been the choice or one of the OT’s. Having Sanchez on the roster now though – two years of learning in the bag – would be ideal. Another faux pas from the previous regime that the QB position was so ignored.