Tag:Jake Locker
Posted on: January 5, 2011 3:10 pm
 

My thoughts on Andrew Luck, Jake Locker

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.


Posted on: December 31, 2010 10:02 pm
 

My Favorite Draft Stories of 2010

The 2010 season has been overrun with stories of scandal, sanctions and distractions from the competition and passion that makes college football great.

So, with so much of the year focused on negative stories that occurred off the field, I thought it appropriate to highlight some of the positive off-field stories, as well.
The following are links to my 10 favorite draft stories of 2010.
 
Did I miss some? I hope so. Feel free to chime in with some of yours too.


These last four stories are obviously not as heart-wrenching or important as the first six. They do, however, serve as reminders as to what is right about college football in a year when so many devoted so much time to what is wrong with it.

On behalf of everyone at NFLDraftScout.com, have a happy and safe New Year!
Posted on: December 30, 2010 3:36 pm
 

Unfair to expect much from Locker tonight

Jake Locker and his Washington teammates face Nebraska tonight in the Holiday Bowl in what is clearly the most intriguing re-match of the bowl season.

Locker and the Huskies were blown out 56-21 at home by the Cornhuskers on September 18. Locker only completed 4 of 20 passes in the game for 71 yards and a touchdown. He also threw two interceptions in what was the worst performance of his career.

Locker has been better since, engineering upset victories over USC, Oregon State and Cal since and leading Washington to to three consecutive wins to assure the Huskies of their first bowl berth since 2002.

He hasn't been so good, however, to expect the type of performance against Nebraska tonight that should significantly impact his draft stock.

The reality is Washington simply lacks the bulk and talent up front to protect Locker from Nebraska's formidable defensive line, led by junior defensive tackle Jared Crick and senior defensive end Pierre Allen. Making matters even more complicated for Locker, the Huskers boast arguably the best cornerback duo in the country in Prince Amukamara, NFLDraftScout.com's top rated senior prospect at any position, and junior Alfonzo Dennard, a Second Team All-Big 12 pick, who has already announced his intentions to return to Nebraska for his senior season despite the fact that he'd best - at worst - a second round pick in the 2011 draft.

Locker is blessed with a solid receiving corps, including a legitimate NFL talent in junior Jermaine Kearse, but Nebraska has the secondary to force him to look elsewhere. Unfortunately, the Huskies are as reliant on their wide receivers as any team in the country when it comes to the downfield passing game.   Locker has only completed six passes to his tight ends all season long and saw starting tight end Chris Izbicki leave the team following the regular season. His backup, freshman Marlion Barnett, has four catches for 31 yards for his career.

If the Huskies have a chance in this game it will be due to the running of redshirt sophomore running back Chris Polk and Locker. Locker could be very decisive and accurate with the football tonight and still post ugly numbers that will undoubtedly draw criticism from media.

Having spoken to various scouts recently about Locker's stock and the expectations for him vs. Nebraska, their feeling is that Locker's stock isn't likely to go down after this game - even if he struggles just as badly against Nebraska tonight as he did in September. Of course, should Locker surprise Nebraska (and scouts) and performs very well despite the Huskies being overmatched physically at nearly every position, his stock has a chance to rise significantly.

The most likely scenario, however, has Locker and the Huskies again struggling against Nebraska. If Locker is going to re-emerge as a first round guarantee, it will almost surely happen in the next bowl -- the Senior Bowl -- approximately a month from now.

For the very best in NFL draft coverage, the place to go is NFLDraftScout.com
Posted on: December 25, 2010 1:19 pm
 

Holiday presents - best 5 Bowl 1 on 1 matchups

On this winter holiday for many, I thought I've provide my readers with my own gift, of sorts.

The following are the five individual matchups I'm most looking forward to scouting over the upcoming bowl games.

West Virginia FS Robert Sands vs. NC State QB Russell Wilson: The 6-4, 221 pound Sands is considering leaving WVU after this, his junior season. Sands is allowed to freelance a bit in the Mountaineers' 3-3-5 defense, but is a natural playmaker who can bring the thunder as a hitter. His instincts and coverage skills will be tested against Wilson. A strong game by Sands could push him into the 2011 draft, where he'd rate among the best free safeties in a weak class needing help from the juniors if there are to be many candidates worthy of a top 75 grade.  This game is scheduled for 6:30 pm EST on Tuesday, December 28th.

Washington WR Jermaine Kearse vs. Nebraska CB Prince Amukamara: Many will point to Husky quarterback Jake Locker as the player to watch in this contest and for good reason. His 4 of 20 performance in the team's first matchup in October is considered by some to be the game that sent his stock sliding this year. (Loyal readers know that is not necessarily the case.) The reality is, without sudden and massive improvement by Washington's offensive line, Nebraska's defense should again be too much to provide Locker a chance in this game. If the 6-2, 205 pound Kearse, however, is able to shake free early for some big plays against Amukamara, Locker and the Huskies have a chance. Locker relies on the junior as his favorite target. When Kearse has been shut down, so too (generally) has Locker -- making this one on one battle a key in the most anticipated rematch of the bowl season.  This game is scheduled for 10 pm EST on Thursday, December 30th.

Notre Dame WR Michael Floyd vs. Miami CB Brandon Harris: Both the 6-3, 228 pound Floyd and the 5-11, 195 pound Harris are expected to leave for the NFL following this game. Harris has the agility, speed and physicality to eliminate most receivers, but Floyd's significant size advantage makes this an intriguing test for the Canes' star. Though teams are often hesitant to move around their corners to match up all game long against wide receivers, eliminating the big play Floyd from Notre Dame's arsenal might be the easiest way of crippling Brian Kelly's offense. This game is scheduled for 2 pm EST on Friday, December 31st.

TCU OT Marcus Cannon vs. Wisconsin DE J.J. Watt: Last year it was the one on one matchup between Georgia Tech defensive end Derrick Morgan and Iowa left tackle Bryan Bulaga that in my mind was the elite battle of the bowl season. This year it is Cannon and Watt. Watt is moved all over the Badgers' defensive line and it is this versatility that has been maddening for opponents to protect against and left NFL scouts salivating at his versatility in the pros. Watt, however, will have his hands full when playing against the Horned Frogs' left tackle, a 6-5, 350 pound behemoth with shockingly quick feet. Bulaga shut down Morgan last year, cementing his place in the first round. I have Cannon firmly in the second round, at this point, but if he's able to slow down Watt, arguably the most dominant defensive lineman in the country, he'll skyrocket up draft boards. This game is scheduled for 5 pm EST on Saturday, January 1st.

Auburn QB Cam Newton vs. Oregon ILB Casey Matthews:
Opponents have tried to keep a "spy" in to protect against Cam Newton's running all game long. The strategy has largely failed despite the fact that defenses have often resorted to their most athletic linebackers or physical safeties to do the job. Matthews isn't a spectacular athlete or terribly physical, but he might be the most instinctive linebacker in the country and among the surer tacklers. This one on one battle could dictate how well Newton is able to move the Auburn offense with his legs -- which could wind up as the key to the BCS Championship. This game is scheduled for 8:30 pm EST on Monday, January 10th.


On behalf of the entire NFLDraftScout.com crew of analysts Chad Reuter and Chris Steuber, editors Derek Harper and Jeff Reynolds, website tech expert Brian Hitterman and publisher Frank Cooney I wish you and your loved ones a very safe, happy and (hopefully football-filled) holiday season.


As always for the very best in pro football draft coverage, check out NFLDraftScout.com or simply click here.
Posted on: December 23, 2010 1:11 pm
 

Bowl standouts so far

We've only just begun the bowl season and yet already there have been several noteworthy performances from NFL hopefuls. Here is a quick run down of five prospects who have caught my eye with their impressive play.

OT Matt Reynolds, BYU --
The junior left tackle may lack the elite athleticism to remain at the blindside position in the NFL, but his balance, lateral agility and strong upper body impressed me Saturday in the Cougars' win over UTEP. At 6-6 and 322 pounds I love his size and toughness as a right tackle and feel he projects just as well inside at guard. That versatility and Reynolds' durability (started all 39 games of his career) should make him a top 50 pick should he elect to leave early, as expected. Reynolds is expected to leave BYU early as he, like many BYU players, is an older prospect having served two years on a LDS mission.

RB Chad Spann, Northern Illinois --
Fresno State entered the Humanitarian Bowl with all the hype, but it was Spann and the Huskies who dominated this contest. Spann, 5-08 and a 198 pounds, showcased better power than you'd expect for a back of his size. His vision, elusiveness and acceleration are, of course, the characteristics that scouts expect from him. The combination resulted in 95 yards (a 6.3 yard average) and two touchdowns against an athletic Bulldog defense.

CB Johnny Patrick, Louisville --
I've been impressed enough with Patrick this season that I've highlighted him on the blog on numerous occasions , including earlier this week . After reviewing Patrick's performance against Southern Miss in the Beef 'O' Brady's Bowl again, I can't help but mention him again as he's been as good as any corner I've scouted in this early bowl season. Patrick boasts quick feet, loose hips, physicality against the run and a swagger about him that I feel will help him translate his game quickly to the NFL. He did surrender an early touchdown against Southern Miss (good coverage, but got turned around on a jump ball and was late in locating the very accurate pass), but showed off his competitiveness with a blocked kick, forced fumble, tackle for loss and pass broken up.

WR Austin Pettis, Boise State -- Matched up for much of the night against Utah's talented corner Brandon Burton, Pettis showed off his combination of size, route-running and reliable hands to catch 12 passes for 146 yards and a touchdown. Pettis should have had another score, but had the ball stripped away from him at the one yard line by Utah safety Brian Blechen. Burton provided tough, physical coverage on several of Pettis' receptions but the Boise star's 6-3, 201 pound frame and strong hands helped him snatch the ball out of the air and protect it from Burton's attempts to knock it free.

QB Pat Devlin, Delaware
-- Ok, so Devlin's Blue Hens aren't part of the FBS and the bowl system, but I've been impressed enough with the former Penn State quarterback's mobility inside the pocket, poise under pressure and accuracy to all levels that he deserves mentioning here. I've spoken to several teams regarding Devlin and there are a number of clubs who feel he could jump ahead of Florida State's Christian Ponder as the No. 2 senior quarterback (behind Washington's Jake Locker) if he is as impressive in a senior all-star game capacity.

I mention Devlin for another reason. Unlike the others on this list, you have one more opportunity to see Devlin play for Delaware. He and his teammates take on No. 1 rated Eastern Washington tomorrow for the FCS Championship.

Remember that for complete draft coverage, be sure to check out NFLDraftScout.com or simply click here. 
Posted on: December 10, 2010 1:35 pm
 

Rare opportunity to scout QB Pat Devlin tonight

Pat Devlin , NFLDraftScout.com's No. 3 rated senior quarterback, gets a rare national television opportunity tonight when he and his Delaware teammates take on New Hampshire in the FCS quarterfinals.

Devlin originally signed with Penn State out of high school but transferred to Delaware after being beaten out for the Nittany Lions' starting job by Daryll Clark.

Devlin has starred for the Blue Hens since the transfer, immediately emerging as one of the top quarterbacks in Colonial Athletic Association in 2009 and earning the CAA Offensive Player of the Year award this season despite being hampered by a broken bone in his left (non-throwing) wrist. The injury limited Devlin in several contests and sidelined him against Duquesne.

Devlin's numbers aren't gaudy (2,414 passing yards and 18 TDs) despite the fact that he operates out of a QB-friendly spread attack for the Blue Hens. However, his 67.8% completion rate and only two interceptions this season certainly catch your attention. Scouts like his mobility, smarts and accuracy in the short to intermediate range but know that Delaware's scheme protects him.

Considering the inconsistencies of Washington's Jake Locker and Florida State's Christian Ponder this season, Devlin could make a push up the board with a strong performance in this game and in any all-star games he's invited to.

The all-star games, in fact, will likely make or break Devlin's chances at breaking into the first three rounds of the draft. There, scouts will ask Devlin to operate out of a pro-style offense that will force him to make the multiple reads and throw the deeper passes through tighter windows that he'll face at the NFL level.

Devlin is often compared to Joe Flacco, who preceded him at Delaware. The comparison is a pretty lazy one. Devlin is shorter, slighter and more athletic. He relies on timing and accuracy to complete his throws -- quite the opposite of the Ravens' 6-6, 238 pound strong-armed Flacco.

This game will be televised by ESPN2 and begins at 8:00 pm EST.


Posted on: December 8, 2010 12:32 pm
 

Disagree with my Top 32? Here's my next 5

As you can imagine, I spent a great deal of time poring over tape and conversing with scouts before releasing my Top 32 Pro Prospects regardless of their draft class.

Some of who may be wondering why there is no Jake Locker (Washington QB) or Michael Floyd (Notre Dame WR) or Janoris Jenkins (Florida CB) on the list. Did I forget them or simply rank others ahead of them?

The quick answer is that I considered everyone but there were some tough cuts to the list. Here are the next 5 players that just missed out. Some were even among my original Top 32 but were late cuts due to questions about their size or readiness for the pros. 

33. ILB Vontaze Burfict, Arizona State: Burfict, only a true sophomore, just missed out on my original Top 32 article. Fans across the country may not know him or only know him due to his penchant for picking up personal fouls at the worst possible times, but in my opinion Dennis Erickson has the most explosive inside linebacker in the country and a future 1st round pick.

34. OT Tyron Smith, Southern Cal: Considering that all 24 of his career starts have come at right tackle and that his lanky frame (6-5, 285) and quick feet make him better suited on the left side, I am not among those who feel Smith should leave after this, his junior season. There is no denying Smith's upside, however, which is why I was included him in my latest projection of the 2011 first round.

35. OG Rodney Hudson, Florida State: The Seminoles' senior left guard - and my choice for the 2010 Outland Trophy - is among the better guard prospects I've scouted due to extraordinary balance and footwork. The problem is, at only 6-2, 284 pounds, he's so much smaller than most he's going to struggle against the behemoth DTs in the NFL. If correctly placed in a zone-blocking scheme, however, I have no doubt his agility will make up for it.

36. RB Michael Dyer, Auburn: South Carolina true freshman Marcus Lattimore made my Top 32, but Dyer, also in the class of 2014, isn't far behind. While I love Lattimore's physicality, Dyer could ultimately emerge as the better pro prospect because his agility and compact frame make him less likely to absorb the same punishment as the Gamecocks' star. His stats (950 rushing yards, 5 TDs) don't do him justice. This kid is a future superstar.

37. DT Stephen Paea, Oregon State : Paea was on my original list, but the 2010 Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Year slipped amid concerns about his size (6-1, 312) and ability to pressure the passer. I love his strength inside and feel he can make an immediate impact in the pros. Considering he only played one season of football in high school, there is still a lot of upside here.


Posted on: December 5, 2010 1:44 pm
 

With one pass, Locker's stock steadies

I have been as critictal of Washington quarterback Jake Locker's struggles as anyone. He entered this season as a prohibitive favorite to be the first senior selected in the 2011 draft and now I do not currently project him among the Top 32 in my first round mock draft.

Part of the reason for Locker's downfall has been the expectations placed upon him after what appeared to be a breakout junior season under Steve Sarkisian. Locker made such strides in his first season under Sarkisian that it was natural to believe he'd make similar gains year two.

It hasn't happened. Locker is still too often fooled by coverages and is highly inconsistent with his accuracy. Those two facts, regardless of how athletic a quarterback might be, have historically translated into struggles at the NFL level.

Scouts can't just write off Locker as a project, however.  That's because, as he again demonstrated last night in a thrilling Apple Cup victory over state rival Washington State, Locker has shown the ability to make accurate throws when the pressure is highest.

Now, let's be clear. Locker was bad -- not just bad, abysmal - in home losses this season to Nebraska and Stanford, the two best defenses he faced all season long. Considering the expectations placed on him, one could argue those two games were the ones he faced the most "pressure" and therefore my argument doesn't appear to hold water.

However, anyone who has watched the Huskies play this season knows about the struggles they've had on the offensive line. This isn't an excuse for Locker. Washington has started a staggering six different lineups along the offensive line. Teams with physical defensive lines -- like Nebraska and Stanford -- have so thoroughly dominated UW up front that Locker had no chance.

Rather, by "pressure," I mean that Locker has been able to make accurate throws when the game is on the line. He's demonstrated this ability often after he's been average (or worse) throughout much of the rest of the game. It is a big reason why, as Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times notes, four of Washington's six victories this season have come in the "final minute or in their last possession of the game ."

Locker demonstrated this ability to make legitimate NFL throws in critical moments in Washington's upsets over USC and Cal each of the past two years and the win over Washington State last night. Folks, that may not sound like many games, but when you've been as bad as Washington has been (Duke and Baylor are the only BCS teams with a longer bowl game drought), there haven't been many opportunities to scout Locker in "pressure" situations.

Again, don't get me wrong. Locker was fair from great last night. It was the Huskies' redshirt sophomore running back Chris Polk who won this game. His jaw-dropping 284 rushing yards and two touchdowns made life much easier on Locker and will be a featured component Monday in my Weekly Rewind feature . Locker, in fact, wasn't even the best quarterback on the field last night. The Cougars' sophomore quarterback Jeff Tuel was spectacular, providing ample evidence that WSU head coach Paul Wulff is doing an admirable job of turning around WSU's program.

But, on the 4th quarter drive to earn a bowl game or end his collegiate career, Locker threw a perfect 27-yard fade to Jermaine Kearse with 44 seconds left to win it. Peyton Manning doesn't throw that pass with better touch, timing or placement than Locker did on that critical play. Here is the link to watch the throw.

And that, in a nutshell, is why Jake Locker is the most frustrating quarterback I've ever scouted. He made some of the same errors in this game that he's made throughout his career. In calling for eight consecutive running plays (six by Polk, two by Locker) on that final drive, scouts are left to wonder whether Sarkisian simply trusted his running game or didn't trust Locker's passing to put the Huskies in position to kick the game-winning field goal.

But, when the play was called to go for the throat, Locker delivered. As Football Outsiders and Sports Press Northwest's writer Doug Farrar noted on Twitter , "That's the throw they're going to show through the entire pre-draft process when everyone's debating Locker's NFL QB ability."

With that one throw, Locker again proved that he can make accurate throws in critical moments. I, like A LOT of scouts I speak to, am not convinced that Locker will ever get past his struggles reading coverage or inconsistent ball placement and be a successful NFL quarterback.

But throws like that one - in moments like that one - provide the evidence that perhaps he can.
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com