Locker out vs Oregon – stock dropping further?

It’s being reported that Jake Locker won’t feature in Saturday’s game between Washington and Oregon. A broken rib will keep him out indefinitely, with the earliest possible return on November 18th against UCLA.

The injury itself won’t be of great concern to scouts. It makes sense to keep Locker out of a game Washington haven’t much hope of winning any way and allowing time to heal. What it does do however is eliminate another key game from the schedule for Locker to flash his talents on a national scale.

The Ducks are currently ranked number one in the BCS Rankings. A performance of any kind in that game would’ve been duly noted. Instead scouts will linger on another disjointed display in Saturday’s blowout to Stanford, which renewed memories of a previous stock-killer against Nebraska.

Admittedly it would be harsh to pin much blame on Locker’s shoulders. He barely had a chance against Stanford, who systematically destroyed Washington in the trenches and regularly stopped Locker before he had a chance to flash his undoubted ability.

However – NFL teams will look at a prospect who hasn’t taken a leap forward as a fifth year senior. His numbers are not improved, his best win will probably be against USC again and he hasn’t shown any greater poise as a passer to compliment the playmaking ability. They’ll bare in mind Locker’s circumstance, but they’ll also wonder if the upside is high enough to warrant the big investment.

Right now I would put his stock firmly in that 25-40 range, depending on where certain teams are picking next April. That doesn’t mean I don’t think Locker will go earlier, it’s all about draft order. He isn’t going to fall out of the second round because there’s a high enough ceiling to justify investment earlier than that. He’s a far better prospect overall than Jimmy Clausen in my opinion.

Promise will not be enough to justify a high selection. Unless someone is really sold on his potential, I don’t see him falling as high as we thought before this season began. The emergence of Cam Newton (QB, Auburn) is an interesting side-story too. In my next mock draft this week, he’ll be making a first appearance. I’ve raised serious concerns about Newton as a passer. However – I do feel, like Tebow last year, someone will roll that dice in round one. The difference being here – Newton is a much, much greater athlete than Tebow and is nowhere near the mechanical headache Tebow was as a passer.

When you throw Ryan Mallett into the equation and potentially Blaine Gabbert too, there will be alternatives to Locker available.

Lot’s of people will point to Locker’s decision to return for another year at Washington. Certainly it’s been proven that staying in college gives scouts the chance to further dissect your game and perhaps lower your grade. Could this hurt Locker? Maybe – but you can also look at Sam Bradford who went back to Oklahoma, got injured and missed the entire year but still went first overall. Alternatively, Jimmy Clausen declared as an underclassman and didn’t go as high as he expected. Locker supposedly wasn’t given a first round grade by the draft advisory group before deciding to pass on the 2010 draft.


  1. Alex

    I know this is looking into the future, but even if Locker’s grade on most team’s board is a second rounder, I’m pretty sure he’ll be able to rebound his stock back into the middle of the 1st round after the Senior Bowl and Combine. I’m still a fan of the Seahawks taking a gamble at Locker (and not because I’m a husky fan) because he is the only one I see franchise QB potential in.

    If Cam Newton gets selected in the 1st round, then rejoice because we just got one less team to worry about. I’ve seen him a few times and I personally don’t think his game translates to the pro level. Mallet, I can see and IMO he’s the second best QB in the draft, but he’ll need to be in the right system such as the Mike Martz or Norv Turner heavy vertical offense. He IMO is not a fit for the WCO that needs a mobile quarterback and generally looks at more horizontal and intermediate than vertical throws. Andrew Luck could work out under the right circumstance (and in the WCO) though I feel his upside is a prime Hasselbeck (i.e. a 3-4 time Pro Bowler) and he’s not even close to that right now. If Luck gets selected to a team that advocates the vertical pass, then that team will be in the dumpster as well.

  2. Matt

    I’m going to make a very bold statement…

    This is the order that I’d want these QBs for the Hawks (relative to draft position as well)

    Locker: Unreal physical ability, tough leader, no finger pointing or excuse making. Good head on his shoulders. Give him time and build to his strengths, you got a top notch QB.

    Newton: Unreal physical ability. Charismatic leader. Rough and needs time, but build to his strengths, and I think you got a Culpepper type. Definite risk here, but I love the tools and if you are going to draft a QB in round 1 onto a bad team, I am going with the tools guy who can make a difference.

    Stanzi: Very underrated. Good arm, nice accuracy, good leadership. I don’t think he’s a game changer, but an effective game manager who can make a lot of throws. And for being considered a mid-round guy, I think he can become a starter. Good value pick.

    Luck: Intelligent, mobile, decent tools across the board. Game managing already and for a top 5 “lock,” needs to shoulder the burden more. Not a good value pick considering the likes of a Christian Ponder and Ricky Stanzi being available in the mid rounds who have very similar games.

    I know people hate taking risks on QBs in the first round, but considering the state of the Seahawks, we don’t have the roster in place to play it “safe.” We need a difference maker at QB, and then we need to build to their strengths. If we want low risk, then settle for Ponder or Stanzi in the middle rounds and let them hand the ball off and make low risk passes.

    Quick question for you Rob, in light of all the injuries to the Hawks (especially Red Bryant), where do you see us finishing? I hate making radical statements, but I think the Raiders game is a sign of things to come. Might we be picking in the top 12 when all is said and done?

    • Rob

      It’s hard to predict isn’t it Matt? The next 3-4 games are very difficult, but then there’s an easier stretch. If we can split the next four and get to 6-5, there’s a very good chance to win the NFC West. Keeping Okung healthy is imperative and so is getting consistency from the team’s offensive playmakers. Even if Seattle loses to NYG next Sunday, they need to prove that Oakland was a blip, not the beginning of a trend. If they come out fighting then there’s no reason why 8-10 wins and a playoff spot aren’t possible. If the Oakland result and the injuries smother the team, then they may struggle to win 6-7 games.

      Either way, the offense simply must step up and improve. That’s every part of the offense too – QB, RB, WR, OL.

  3. akki

    Hmm, I didn’t even notice Stanzi was still in the discussion. He’d disappeared after being really hyped up a couple years ago. Stanzi never impressed me that much (my college team is Northwestern) and seemed really streaky. I haven’t seen him play this year, but his stats suggest something has started to click.

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