Kiper: “Locker will fall in the middle of the first round”

Mel Kiper took part in his weekly ESPN draft chat yesterday, with a few interesting observations. He thinks there’s a chance Michael Floyd (WR, Notre Dame) and Jonathan Baldwin (WR, Pittsburgh) will not enter the 2011 draft. I disagree because I’m not sure their situation betters anymore next year and circumstance will be on their side now, it won’t be in 12 months time. He has some high praise for Rodney Hudson (OG, Florida State) – someone I’ve been talking about for a long time too. He also labels Nick Fairley (DT, Auburn) an “elite” junior prospect.

However, his most interesting comment perhaps involved Washington quarterback Jake Locker, when asked by a Seattle native named Keith how much his stock had fallen:

From being right there at the top. He was No. 1 on the board through the early portion of the season. Obviously, he fell after that performance against Nebraska. He’s played better. He fell from 7 to 8 this week. He’s going to be a nice QB. He needs to be coached up. Like all QBs, he’s going to need some time. He’ll fall in the middle of the first round. Luck and Mallett and Newton and the other juniors can’t go to the Senior Bowl. Locker is the only highly rated senior QB. I hope he’s at the Senior Bowl. He can start to improve his rating down there.

It’s interesting to note. A lot of draft pundits have been down on Locker from the start of the year and therefore rank him low accordingly. I spoke to one scout for a high-profile national draft website this week who told me he thinks Locker has ‘Clausen range’ stock and won’t be drafted until the 20-40 region next April. Kiper is amongst a few of the big names who ranked Locker very highly (#1 on his big board) at the start of the year and he still maintains praise for the Washington QB. However, even he is listing Locker amongst the mid-teens range at the moment.

I had Locker going first overall in my latest mock draft and I explained why in a bit more detail here. If Buffalo select first overall as many anticipate (0-5 record, tough AFC East schedule) they’re almost certainly going to draft a quarterback. There just aren’t enough alternatives. When 1-15 Miami passed on Matt Ryan in 2008, it’s because they felt Jake Long could be a long term fixture at left tackle. They also felt comfortable selecting Chad Henne in round two. There’s not a LT anywhere near good enough to go first overall this year and although there is some talent at defensive end, it seems unlikely Buffalo would consider a Da’Quan Bowers or Robert Quinn with the first pick – even if Bowers continues his run of nine sacks in six games.

Perhaps they would consider A.J. Green (WR, Georgia) – potentially the best overall prospect in the draft class? They like playmakers at the skill positions (see: C.J. Spiller). It could be an expensive investment at wide receiver. They would also have to be convinced by a prospect like Ryan Mallett later on in rounds 2-3. Clearly Mallett has the arm that would comfortably deal with the Buffalo weather, but would the Bills be willing to ignore the QB position with the #1 pick to gamble on filling that gaping black hole later on?

Maybe I’ll be proven wrong, but I have a hard time seeing Andrew Luck in a Bills uniform, for the reasons I gave in the Jake Locker article. If they absolutely must have a quarterback first overall and the options are Locker or Luck, I still think Locker gets the call. However, there are enough voices out there at the moment who seem to think Locker won’t be drafted that high. I also fully appreciate the issues they raise with Locker – namely his occasionally erratic decision making, his need to get out of the pocket so much and the nightmare performance against a good Nebraska defense. We’ll see if that changes over the next few weeks if Washington keep winning and Locker keeps performing like he did against USC and Oregon State.


  1. IVan

    Nice post…

    I have a hard time seeing Luck in a Bills uniform… Their main problem is their defense, so they could trade down too, for a guy like P. Peterson or Amukamara or a LB.

    • Rob

      Their main problem is without doubt QB. The defense isn’t great, but until they draft or sign a quarterback they can’t really afford to look anywhere else.

      • IVan

        Maybe Fitzpatrick isnt the long term answer and maybe he will never be an elite QB BUT he gets the job done, he gives his team a chance to win but their defense? not so much, but yeah i have to agree they need a QB and thats what they are going to do.

  2. Patrick

    It’s a very interesting angle with Buffalo. Since the ’10 draft ended, I’ve said Buffalo was my pick to be the #1 draft pick in the 2011 draft. Instead of grabbing a QB or a LT at #9 they take C.J. Spiller? Really? Wait…seriously? I liked Spiller but when you have probably the worst QB situation in the league and one of the worst lines… you grab a RB? Then in round 2, they skipped over Jimmy Clausen, a QB many considered to be the #2 behind Sam Bradford? What if Buffalo was inept again?

    I could definitely see them drafting A.J. Green. He would certainly be a playmaker, and one they sorely need. Especially if you consider who could still be available in round 2. Mallett, Newton (Who may actually make sense for Buffalo), or even later on someone like Ponder. Not only that, but what if Buffalo actually likes Ryan Fitzpatrick? If Buffalo doesn’t see a Sam Bradford-type player, why waste the #1 overall pick when you could get a QB with #33?

    • Matt

      I really agree with you on the Fitzpatrick angle. He’s not a sexy name but he’s actually played pretty well and Buffalo may feel they can’t afford to “miss,” so they go the safe route and go another route.

      I really liked CJ Spiller, but that pick was just bad considering how many holes they have on that roster. With Buffalo, who knows what happens. I could see them taking AJ Green then trading up in the late 1st for Mallett (just to be secure).

      I’m most interested in seeing what the 49ers do. I think they could be the real wild card of the draft on whether or not they take a QB or not. I would think they would jump on Luck considering he’d fit in well on that roster. He’d be able to hand the ball off and make safe passes to big time playmakers.

  3. 1sthill

    I agree, Bills chosing Spiller was a bit of a head scratcher when they had so many other needs. I could see them doing something like that again. They could take DE Marcell Dareus with the 1st overall pick. The Bills have made the swith to a 3-4 defense and Dareus could be an outstanding player for them in that defense.

  4. Carl

    if not a QB, Peterson seems like a solid choice at #1 for Buffalo.

  5. Blake

    Defensive backs don’t go in the top 3… ever. Its gotta be QB or trade down. Trading down has not seemed very plausible in the past, but the new CBA should change that by creating a rookie pay scale. Then, moving up to #1 wouldn’t be so costly in cash.

  6. Kip Earlywine

    Carl Shinyama has broken down a few Jake Locker performances this year, among them the loss to Nebraska. Its worth reading, and its a reminder for those that watched the game that while Jake had a bad game against Nebraska, he wasn’t nearly as bad as a 4-20 line would indicate. He had an off game, but his surrounding players played worse and his defense put him in a huge hole only minutes into the game.

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