Blog Entry

With Sr QBs struggling, NFL hoping it's Luck(y)

Posted on: October 16, 2010 5:44 pm
Entering the 2010 season there were high hopes from scouts that senior quarterbacks Jake Locker (Washington) and Christian Ponder (Florida State) would emerge as legitimate No. 1 overall candidates.

The two tied for the highest grade given by NFL scouts entering the season and have shown flashes of the ability to warrant their Heisman and NFL hype.

Neither to this point in the season, however, has shown the type of consistency scouts are looking for.

Locker's struggles against Nebraska (and other teams) have been well documented. It isn't just the inconsistent numbers that have scouts concerned, however. Locker hasn't yet shown the ability to read defenses or consistently hit open receivers. In his most impressive performance -- a victory over USC two weeks ago -- Locker had his reads limited by head coach Steve Sarkisian. Locker had only one or two reads to make, rather than scanning the entire field, before having the green light to run.

Ponder has likewise struggled, with his worst performance of the season (thus far) coming today against Boston College. Ponder completed 19 of 31 passes for 170 yards, two touchdowns and three interceptions. He also lost a fumble.

Stanford's Andrew Luck, only a redshirt sophomore, has already announced his intentions to return. But, with the pickins' slim among seniors, NFL teams looking for a franchise quarterback in the upcoming draft are being left to hope that he and other underclassmen will boost the class.

Since: Apr 20, 2009
Posted on: October 18, 2010 1:18 pm

With Sr QBs struggling, NFL hoping it's Luck(y)

I'm just curious as to whether or not you guys actually watch these games or simply refer to a box score to make a judgment on a player?

I have watched every game of Andrew Luck, Christian Ponder, and Jake Locker this season, and it's becoming increasingly obvious to me that some people simply see what they want to see in regards to these guys.

Let's start with Andrew Luck. Clearly a smart kid with prototypical size (6'4" 235). Luck has a very good supporting cast including a very efficient, hard nose running game and O-line. Still not seeing the "great" arm strength as his deep balls are always underthrown and he clearly lacks zip on any pass over 12 yards. He definitely has an above average arm, but it's clearly not at the level that so many people have been raving about all year. He has nice accuracy but rarely ever makes throws into tight windows due to route combinations as well as having top tier offensive line play allowing for a great amount of time to hang out in the pocket. It seems as if a lot of his passing success greatly hinges of the play action game (or run game in general). His play is eerily like Mark Sanchez (this year) on the Jets, where the ground game greatly opens up high percentage pass plays that allow for relatively easy completions. Luck is also a good athlete that can buy time with his legs, but his longer running plays will be negated at the NFL level where guys are not only physically more talented, but also more intelligent. Overall, Luck is a nice player that is continually improving, but I don't know how confident I would be drafting him in the top 5 considering he will be going to a poor team with little support. I'm not sure what he will do with little run game and offensive line support, where the onus is put squarely on him to make plays because at this point in his career, a majority of his success has come as a result of strong O-line play and run game support. I see Eli Manning as his ceiling, not Peyton Manning (as Brent Musberger so eloquently pointed out on ABC). What they do have right, is that he is a very safe pick for a team that clearly doesn't want to gamble on upside.

Onto Christian Ponder, who I am still wondering how he is considered anything but a mid-round prospect. Clearly a smart kid off the field (MBA), but it doesn't not show up at all on the field. This is a clear case of a kid's great off field accomplishments over blowing his on field ability, especially "decision making." There have been countless times this year where is decisions have been pre-determined and subsequently very poor. His arm strength doesn't allow for mental mistakes as he gets little to no zip on his passes meaning his decision making must be not only smart, but quick. His accuracy is overated (like Luck), perhaps due to the idea that he is clearly a very smart kid off the field and lives off high percentage short passes. His intermediate - deep passing game will be almost non-existent at the NFL level unless it comes off play action. All this said, I still believe that Ponder can become a starting QB (albeit Game Manager) at the next level. He does have a nice release and pocket mobility and with more fine tuning, can become an effective WC QB on a team with good talent around him, where he is not the focal point of the offense. The intelligence is there, just doesn't show up on the field all the time. Ponder is surrounded by a top notch bunch of athletes and very stout O-line spearheaded by one of the most underrated lineman in the country, Rodney Hudson.

Onto Jake Locker. Physically perhaps the most PHYSICALLY gifted QB prospect to come along in awhile. Besides legit 4.4-4.5 (functional) speed, also has great arm strength and clean, high, quick release in a near prototypical QB size (6'3" 230lbs). Elite zip (and surprising accuracy) in the intermediate passing game allowing for many deep out completions. Deep game has improved due to increased trajectory on passes allowing for WRs to run under the ball, rather than year's past, where deep passes were bullet type passes allowing for smaller margin of error. Short accuracy/touch as well as spurts of inconsistency are holding him back from more draft hoopla but is not nearly as poor as the media says. Below average accuracy in the short game is clearly the result of inconsistent touch on passes rather than complete misfires. He shows spurts of inconsistent and pre-determined decision making that is clearly displayed when forcing passes into tight coverage. That said, the portrayal of "poor" accuracy and decision making is overstated due to reference to box scores and the fact that he is protected by one of the worst O-lines in major D-1 football and has an erratic WR corp that has the ability to make a great play and drop the easy stuff the next play. Not nearly as "dangerous" of a draft pick as the media portrays.

Luck would fit great on a team like the 49ers and Vikings who have a strong supporting cast (O-line & run game) allowing for high percentage passes. Ponder could fit similar style teams that allow him to be a manager rather than the focal point. Cleveland would also be a good spot due to a very stout O-line. Think very much along the lines of Mark Sanchez who needs the run game to open up the passing game to allow for high percentage passing plays.

Locker would be more ideal to a team like Buffalo who clearly lacks O-line play and supporting cast. Buffalo can watch a Locker game right now and see what he could do with limited help around him. Lastly, Locker has shown the ability to play in cold weather due to playing in the state of Washington (rain, less than ideal conditions later in the season).

Apologies for the rant, but I'd figured I'd actually give people a truthful take on these 3 prospects. None of these guys are on par with Sam Bradford who has a better arm than Luck, and better accuracy to all 3 levels than Locker.

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or