Doug Farrar of Football Outsiders, Yahoo, Sports Press Northwest and probably another couple dozen entities since I began this blog posting recently asked me to provide a "paragraph or two" breakdown of Stanford's Andrew Luck and Washington's Jake Locker.
The finished article, which includes play by play details of both Pac-10 quarterbacks' performances in their recent bowl games, is part of Doug's weekly Cover Three piece for Football Outsiders and can be seen here.
Here are my thoughts on Luck. Below are my thoughts on Locker.
Andrew Luck has remarkably advanced technique for a redshirt sophomore. When dropping back, he shows good balance and fluidity, keeping his eyes downfield and quickly identifying the defense. He quickly scans the field and rarely forces the ball into coverage. Luck has an efficient over-the-top release, yet shows the ability to change his throwing slot, as needed. He possesses a strong arm, though it is not a rocket. Besides his ability to quickly decipher coverages, Luck's best attribute is his rare accuracy.
Where most quarterback prospects are content to hit their receivers in stride, Luck shows the remarkable ability to lead his receivers to the opening -- pushing wideouts upfield, turning them around when the safety is closing, placing the ball low or high so that his target has the best chance to make the reception. Like most passers, Luck's accuracy suffers when he's on the move, but he's shown the ability to square his shoulders and fire accurately while on the run. There is only one quarterback I've scouted with Luck's combination of intelligence, accuracy and size -- the previously incomparable Peyton Manning.
Jake Locker is the most frustrating quarterback prospect I've scouted in more than 10 years in the profession. Physically, he has the skills to warrant a Top 10 selection. Locker is experienced in the pro-style offense, demonstrating the quick feet and balance necessary in dropping back from center. He has a over-the-top release and a very strong arm. Locker's accuracy is maddeningly inconsistent, however. He's developed some bad habits running for cover behind a porous Washington offensive line, panicking when his first reads are covered and throwing off his back foot. Surprisingly for a four-year starter, Locker doesn't read defenses as well as scouts would like, , too often putting the ball up for grabs.
For all of his faults, however, Locker has made some of his most impressive throws in critical situations, coming through with clutch passes in upsets over USC, Cal, and most recently against Nebraska in the Holiday Bowl. Throws like those have forced scouts to wonder how successful he might be if surrounded by more talent. Of course, Locker's most impressive physical attributes are his speed and power as a runner. Besides his rare running ability, Locker's toughness and leadership are the kind NFL decision-makers fall in love with during interviews. He reminds me of Donovan McNabb.