Following a mediocre performance in his Huskies' season opening loss at BYU, I argued that whatever gap there may have been in the pro grades of Washington's Jake Locker and Florida State's Christian Ponder as the top senior quarterback was narrowing .
With a historically poor performance at home Saturday against Nebraska, Ponder will overtake Locker on most boards.
In all fairness to Locker, Nebraska may have the country's best secondary. The Cornhuskers' Prince Amukamara was rated by NFL scouts as the elite senior prospect in the country heading into this season. His counterpart, junior Alfonzo Dennard, has been characterized by Nebraska head coach Bo Pelini as being every bit as good as Amukamara. Dennard certainly looked worthy of his coach's high praise with stready coverage, including an interception and 33-yard return for a touchdown.
Locker completed only 4 of 20 passes for 71 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions against the Cornhuskers. His QB rating of 46.3% -- his worst in 31 career games -- is the third lowest QB-rating by a FBS quarterback since 2003.
Take away the 45-yard touchdown pass thrown to receiver Jermaine Kearse in the third quarter and Locker threw for only 26 yards in a game in which the Huskies trailed for all but the first two minutes (technically, 2:11).
But, forget the final statistics for a moment.
Locker's first throw of the game demonstrated exactly why scouts will be dropping him.
Dropping back, Locker surveyed the field and with solid protection he calmly lofted a deep pass over the middle into double coverage. The throw was easily intercepted by safety Eric Hagg.
It was a throw that never should have been made. Not by a fifth-year senior. Certainly not by one projected to be the first pick of the 2011 NFL draft.
Unless Locker turns around his season -- and quickly -- he won't have to worry about being the first pick.
He'll need to show improvement just to make the first round.