Jake Locker is #1

Jake Locker on form against Oregon State

I’ve been busy today and unable to get through a lot of the tape stashed from last night. I’ll have something on the blog tomorrow. A lot of people have been asking about Cam Newton (QB, Auburn) so I’ll have some thoughts on him. There are some red flags with Newton from his time with Florida that I’ll include here, but more on his game later.

One game I was able to watch part of last night was Washington’s win against Oregon State. Jake Locker passed for three touchdowns in regulation and a couple more in overtime. He went 21/35 for 285 yards and added a further 60 on the ground. He had a single interception and a fumble early on. Was it perfect? No. The critics will point to the way Locker has to get out of the pocket, his sometimes patchy decision making and lack of elite accuracy. What Locker did do was show off yet again his playmaking qualities and his ability to get the job done – which some have questioned.

With Andrew Luck on a bye week, this was a chance for Locker to show he’s still in the race to be the first QB taken next April. He took the chance with both hands. A lot of people think the Buffalo Bills will select first overall next year. They’re 0-5, play in a tough division and struggling badly. They’ll take a QB next year if they are picking first. As things stand today – I think they would take Locker over Luck for sure. Some thoughts as to why:

– Whether it should be a factor or not – their last great hope at QB (albeit as a third round pick) was Trent Edwards. He went to Stanford, like Andrew Luck. I’m sure they’ll analyse Luck separately and not base such a major decision on a factor like this. However, it’s not ridiculous to suggest it may linger in the decision making process, especially if two prospects are ranked closely on their board.

– Locker has a bigger arm and is more physically talented, something that might be crucial in the torrid Buffalo weather.

– Buffalo showed they’ll take playmakers with promise over steady, so-called ‘safer’ picks when they drafted C.J. Spiller.

But perhaps more importantly than anything I just think Locker has proved he’s capable of being the defining factor on his team. Both players are intelligent, hard-working types who are leaders in their respective programmes. I don’t think there’s much between the two in terms of accuracy (both not great) but Locker has the greater arm and is ahead as an overall athlete. It’s not Luck’s fault that he benefits from a strong running game and offensive line. Neither has he shown he can be ‘the star’. He doesn’t hold back Stanford, he helps them along. Locker wins games for Washington.

In a system like San Francisco with a more established run game and offensive line, Luck could have real success as a solid game-manager type. On a team looking for someone to launch a come-back, then I think they’ll go with the bigger playmaker with much greater potential upside. Maybe a bit riskier, but with potentially greater returns. Play to Locker’s strengths, let him develop in one system. Try and iron out the kinks or learn to live with them. I’m not sure Luck walks into Buffalo’s mess. At least Locker will come in and not be unfamiliar to the situation – trying to get the job done on a team without a loaded roster.

Of course the situation changes if Buffalo aren’t the first on the clock next April and there’s a lot of football to be played. However, as things stands today I believe Locker has done enough to get past that Nebraska performance and put himself very much back in the first overall discussion. When I write my next mock draft, there’ll be a change at #1.


  1. Patrick

    Sadly, I’m afriad you might be right. I was very impressed by Locker yesterday, and living in Florida, it was nice to finally get to see Locker play. The issue of QB has been one that has been bugging me a lot lately, I think because it’s the most important position on an NFL team, and I definitely know the Seahawks need to solve that question. Even today, winning was amazing but I kept thinking how winning this division would probably take us away from any chance at Locker or Luck. If both are gone, and Mallett doesn’t fit into the style of QB we are looking for, who does that leave? I like Jerrod Johnson and think he fits the profile we’re looking for, but he’s definitely a mid-round project and we don’t really need any more of those.

    I actually am very curious to hear anything I can about Newton. I’m not even sure, what grade is he? Could he enter the 2011 draft? I was very impressed by his performance and knowing Locker and Luck may be out of our reach, I’m trying to find more mobile, accurate QBs. Newton definitely fits the bill.

    • Rob

      Johnson has regressed this year, I’m not sure he’ll even get drafted now which is a shame. I’ve just watched Cam Newton again (vs Arkansas). He’s a run first QB. Great athlete but it’s hard to see him playing QB in the NFL. Big mechanical issues when throwing. I wouldn’t draft him to play QB personally. He looks like the kind of guy you bring in as a brilliant athlete and train him as a wideout.. get him to play special teams and the occassional snap under center. He can’t be running QB draws at the next level. Fun college player to watch who will win games for Auburn, not a first round QB.

      It’s a topic that we will clearly debate a lot between now and April. Save from winning the Super Bowl, I’m not sure there’s a situation where I could envisage Seattle not having to seriously address QB next year. I’m sure this regime is on top of that. If Locker (or Luck) is the guy… you do what it takes to get them. If they aren’t – you need to find options elsewhere. Quarterback is by far Seattle’s biggest need and will remain so until a long term starter is found.

  2. Patrick

    It is a shame if Johnson doesn’t get drafted, but I could definitely see that happening as well. After Locker, Luck, and Mallett, I’m not sure I see any QBs that stand out enough to consider. I remember hearing names like Pat Devlin, Nick Foles (Arizona), and a few others mentioned, but I’m not sure about any of them have done enough to assume they are capable of really making that leap.

    Is it too soon to start looking at what free agent QBs may be available? I know the Seahawks checked on Kevin Kolb last offseason. I’m not a Kolb fan, but the front office seemed to like what they saw. Anyone else stand out? If Matt Cassel doesn’t improve I suppose he could be available, and he was a USC alum. I like Cassel so I’m biased though. Sadly, I don’t see to many other real options here, especially when comparing these players to Whitehurst. After all, if these free agents aren’t any better than Whitehurst than what’s the point?

    • Rob

      There are rarely good FA QB’s because of the importance of the position. The problem with a guy like Kolb is if he sits a lot of the year the Eagles will be asking for a ton of compensation again… if he starts now… then they won’t deal. I don’t want us to go the Vick route and don’t think we would. Aside from that, not a lot on offer. I like Tyler Thigpen but not as the great hope of Seattle.

      If this team likes Luck or Locker enough they need to make a big trade if they can’t get either at their own position. I suspect it’s somethiong they’ll seriously consider, but a long way to go yet before that becomes a legitimate topic.

  3. Blake

    The corner route to Jermaine Kearse on Saturday was all a scout needs to see to know that Locker is franchise QB prospect. He identified the blitz from his left, stepped up in the pocket, and knowing that the area where the blitzers came from is exposed, chucked a pinpoint pass with tremendous loft to Kearse who finally caught one. It was a 25 yarder that looked like a simple play, but is extremely difficult for a college QB to throw.

    • Matt

      Amen. He made several throws in that game that I have not seen many college QBs make over the past 10 years. What continually blows my mind about Locker, is how quickly he can get rid of a ball with absolute mustard on it. His deep outs are a thing of beauty to watch and his overall accuracy in the intermediate game is actually very, very good.

      He needs work on the short stuff, but that’s more touch related rather than complete misfires, which, to me is a very fixable thing. I’m still hoping the Hawks do what it takes to draft him next April. So much potential with issues that I think are very coachable. We are not asking him to change his release/throwing mechanics/learn a completely new offense.

      • Rob

        What I saw of Locker (not a full game) on Saturday was a long way ahead of anything I’ve seen from Andrew Luck this year.

      • Blake

        And just the simple fact that Luck gets 5 seconds in the pocket with 2 future NFL receivers and Locker gets 3 seconds with 0 guys who will play on Sunday. They both have about equal running games. Locker will be used to getting rid of the ball in 3 seconds or less and it will be luxurious how clean the pocket is an how large the strike zone is for a receiver like Mike Williams. That is how bad UW has been-the pocket is cleaner in the NFL. I will cry tears of joy if #10 is wearing navy blue on Sundays next year.

        • Matt

          Haha, I’ve been saying the same thing. He’s the one 1st round QB that will actually have better protection and more time in the NFL. That’s just crazy to think about. I’m really hoping they do what it takes to keep him in Seattle. Locker + Carroll just seems like Kool Aid I could drink up for a good 10 years.

  4. Bruce M.

    Actually, I was at the OSU game and the best ball I saw Locker throw was the crossing route to Kearse at the goal line, on 3rd and 2 from the 14 yard line or so in OT, with the Huskies needing a TD to stay alive.

    The center completely whiffed on his man, and Locker had a nose tackle in his face almost immediately. Did not have time to step into his throw, but just armed the ball exactly where it needed to be under serious duress and with plenty of zip. Wow. Lightning release, strong arm, great accuracy–all under intense pressure, from the DL and the game situation. Even more than the corner fade to Kearse, that one had me shaking my head.

    Of course, that pick he threw much earlier also had me shaking my head. He is not perfect. But his potential is sky high, and he is moving toward it. With all that physical talent, it’s also good to know that he is a first class kid with a dynamite work ethic who loves football and competition. My guess is that he struggles at first in the NFL, but he is just too talented and driven not to suceed over time.

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