Tag:Jake Locker
Posted on: September 25, 2010 9:11 pm
 

Mallett a talent, but not an elite one

Just like how it became en vogue to tee off on Washington's Jake Locker after his struggles against a talented Nebraska defense, don't be surprised when every talking head out there jumps on the back of Arkansas' Ryan Mallett after a tough second half against the Tide, Saturday.

Just like they would have jumped on his bandwagon had he been able to engineer the upset.

Last week was a perfect example. Mallett made some legitimate NFL throws in the comeback victory over Georgia, but the same concerns that I (and more importantly, NFL scouts) have voiced about him in the past were evident when one breaks down the film rather than just peek at the box score.

Those same issues were even more evident against the Tide.

Mallett, despite what some commentators might tell you, has the marginal footwork most passers of his height have. His first of three interceptions against the Tide showed him throwing flat-footed, rather than stepping into the throw. His second was arguably his worst throw of the game -- high and behind his intended target. His third, off of his back foot, was an inexcusably lazy toss that he tried to throw away. Some quarterbacks don't have the arm strength to throw it out of bounds 40 yards away. Mallett could do it from 70. And he'd tell you the same.

As Alabama turned up the pressure in the second half, Mallett was forced to move his feet to either step up in the pocket or avoid a pass rush. When he did so, his accuracy plummeted. And that was predictable.

Now, before you claim that I'm simply jumping on Mallett now after his struggles against what likely will be the toughest defense he faces this season, know that I've been grading Mallett the same way for a long time now.

Here is what I said during my preview of the SEC in July :
One final note on the SEC prospects... I typically reserve comments for senior prospects, but Arkansas quarterback Ryan Mallett is an obvious NFL prospect regardless of when he leaves the Razorbacks. However, I wasn't as wowed by Mallett as some apparently are. His 6-6, 238 pound frame is considered a positive by most, though his long legs and only moderate foot speed/balance concern me. Mallett has a gun and can make some dazzling throws, but at least some of his success has to be attributed to Bobby Petrino's wide-open offense. Remember, this is the same offense that convinced many of us that former Louisville standout Brian Brohm was one day going to be an NFL star. With two years of remaining eligibility, Mallett has plenty of time to iron out some wrinkles to his game, but I, for one, feel he's being a bit overrated right now...

Mallett is a talented passer with a big arm. When he's protected, he's go the intermediate and long accuracy to shred defenses just like Drew Bledsoe did for the Washington State Cougars and early in his NFL career with the New England Patriots. That said, this is a different NFL than the one Bledsoe did his damage. Defenses force quarterbacks to move their feet and adjust quickly in today's game. I haven't yet seen that or the short range accuracy Mallett will need to be consistently successful.

Is he talented? Sure. Any quarterback with his arm strength and the ability to complete 75% of his passes in the first three quarters (for 313 yards and TD) against Alabama certainly is talented.

But, he's not the elite prospect some have characterized him as. And it didn't take 4-10 passing for 44 yards and two terrible interceptions in the 4th quarter to prove it.
Posted on: September 22, 2010 1:57 pm
 

NFL Draft Prospects Update -- CBS video

Though the season is only a few weeks in, we know that there are plenty of ravenous NFL draft fans out there.

Earlier today I discussed with Lauren Shehadi the quarterbacks headlining NFL teams' draft boards. Our conversation began with Jake Locker and his struggles against Nebraska, but we also talked about Florida State's Christian Ponder, two talented underclassmen passers that are certainly piquing the interest of scouts, as well as two rising senior prospects to keep an eye on.

The video was recorded and is already available to watch. Just make sure after clicking the link that you go to Video Channels--NFL--NFL Draft Prospect Update 9/22. 

To watch the video click here.  

Posted on: September 18, 2010 11:22 pm
 

Question isn't if Locker slips, but how much?

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.
Posted on: September 18, 2010 12:05 pm
 

Five seniors I'll be scouting closely today

Each Saturday I list here five seniors I'll be scouting closely. Prospects in the past I've listed include Washington quarterback Jake Locker, Florida State quarterback Christian Ponder, San Jose State safety Duke Ihenacho, Purdue defensive end Ryan Kerrigan and NFLDraftScout.com's current lead story , Florida center Mike Pouncey, among others.

Players I'm focusing on aren't necessarily the elite prospects, but those who have legitimate NFL hopes, are playing in an intriguing matchup and, of course, are being televised.

For those that would like to scout alongside me today, you can follow me on Twitter @RobRang.

These are the five seniors I'll be keying in on tday (and a brief explanation as to why)...

CB Prince Amukamara, Nebraska : In the game I certainly believe to be the biggest matchup of the weekend, Amukamara has the task of controlling Washington quarterback Jake Locker's favorite target, junior wideout Jermaine Kearse. Kearse, the reigning Pac-10 Offensive Player of the Week after catching nine passes for 179 yards and three touchdowns last week in a win over Syracuse. If Amukamara, who entered the year rated by NFL scouts as the elite senior prospect in the entire country , can force Locker to look elsewhere, the Huskers will have a great shot at defeating the Huskies in Seattle.

OT DeMarcus Love, Arkansas: Razorback quarterback Ryan Mallett has already generated plenty of Heisman and early NFL draft talk. If he is to continue to earn rave reviews, he'll need a strong effort from his blindside protector, Love, in Arkansas' SEC opener against Georgia, today. The contest is a particularly intriguing one as Georgia enters this game needing a win following last week's loss to South Carolina and presents Arkansas with matchup dilemmas, considering they now use a 3-4 alignment. How Love handles Georgia's speed off the edge will go a long way in scouts eyes of determining whether the second-year starting LT has the athleticism and recognition to remain here in the NFL.

ILB Quan Sturdivant, North Carolina: For all of the negativity going on around the North Carolina program right now, some might be surprised to learn that they're actually still playing football. The Tar Heels host Georgia Tech in one of the key conference matchups of the weekend. While his athletically superior Bruce Carter gets most of the headlines, Sturdivant is among the more instinctive linebackers in the country. How he reacts to Georgia Tech's triple option offense will go a long way in determining who wins this ACC showdown.

OT Jonathan Barksdale, LSU: Though the Bulldogs enter this game 1-1, I've been more impressed with them so far in the early season than I have the 2-0 and hosting Tigers. Barksdale will be in charge of protecting LSU quarterback Jordan Jefferson against Pernell McPhee, an immediate impact (and all-conference) performer last year for Mississippi State. Barksdale, 6-6 and 320 pounds, played well at right tackle in the past, but with four-year starter Ciron Black attempting to find a niche in the NFL, it will be up to Barksdale to control the left tackle position this year.  

CB Johnny Patrick, Louisville: Patrick doesn't get a lot of recognition outside of Conference USA, but he boasts an underrated combination of size (5-11, 190), quick feet and speed (4.47). Oregon State running back Jacquizz Rodgers gets most of the attention, but his older brother, wideout James, broke the school record last year with 2,328 all-purpose yards. Patrick is the Cardinals' most talented and experienced defensive back. He got nicked up last week against Eastern Kentucky, but is expected to play. This should make for an intriguing and nationally underrated showdown between two very good athletes. 
Posted on: September 12, 2010 11:31 am
 

Tough day for top QB prospects

A simple scan of the box scores of the Washington-Syracuse, Stanford-UCLA, Ohio State-Miami and Arkansas-Louisiana (Monroe) games yesterday might be enough to tell you that the winnning quarterbacks in these games enjoyed their Saturday far more than the losing quarterbacks in the Florida State-Oklahoma and Idaho-Nebraska games.

Stat lines rarely tell the whole story, however, and they certainly don't in this case.

Despite impressive stat lines, I can tell you, after spending much of day and night Saturday reviewing their work, that nearly all of the QB prospects potentially available for the 2011 NFL draft struggled. And that none of them showed the consistent accuracy, pocket awareness or poise in a hostile environment (or all three) to lead an NFL team right now.

Which is good, because all of them obviously are collegiate prospects with at least a full calendar year until they'll be asked to do so.

In terms of numbers, one might say that Jake Locker (22/33, 289 yards, 4 TDs/0 INTs, 12 rushing yards) was the most impressive in the Huskies' 41-20 win over Syracuse.

Despite his impressive totals, however, the same accuracy issues that plagued Locker against BYU a week earlier were still there. His receivers, largely junior wideout Jermaine Kearse (9 receptions for 179 yards, 3 TDs) simply turned short and intermediate routes into big plays with good vision, tough running and underrated speed.

Still, for Locker, it was the second mediocre game of the season -- and the Huskies host Nebraska next Saturday.

Fellow senior prospect Christian Ponder (11/28, 113 yards, 0 TDs/2 INTs, 23 rushing yards) much more obviously struggled Saturday in front of a raucous crowd in Norman, Oklahoma. He had little time and was hurt by several drops from his receivers, but as the game slipped away in the second and third quarters, Ponder began to press. He threw the ball into coverage and, at times, allowed himself to peek at the rush rather than keeping his eyes downfield. With the weakest of this group's arms (though still plenty strong for the NFL), these mistakes only added to Florida State's struggles.

Of course, the senior quarterback prospect who struggled the most was Idaho's Nathan Enderle . As I mentioned in my previous blog post, Enderle was among the five senior prospects I was closely scouting yesterday. No one expected the Vandals to walk into Lincoln and shock the Cornhuskers, but Enderle clearly struggled with the speed and physicality of his opponent. He finished 16/31, 141 yards, 1 TD/5 INTs -- including two 40+ yard INTs returned for TDs on back to back drives in the second quarter.

The play from the underclassmen was certainly better than Enderle's, but, like Locker's statistics can be deceiving.

Arkansas' Ryan Mallett had an apparent field day against Louisiana-Monroe (28/43, 400 yards, 3 TDs/1 INT), but the same issues that concerned me before remain. Mallett has a tendency to not set his feet, relying on his admittedly very strong arm to thread the needle. Against this caliber of defense he can get away it. Against the Pittsburgh Steelers or Green Bay Packers? Not so much. Don't let his numbers fool you. Remember, Bobby Petrino's offense helped Brian Brohm (Packers) get drafted in the second round.

Even Heisman favorite (at least mine) Terrelle Pryor (12/27, 233 yards, 1 TD/0 INT, 113 rushing yards, 1 TD) wasn't as dazzling throughout the game as the highlights you may have seen would indicate. Pryor, like Mallett, is inconsistent in setting his feet before he throws. Like Locker, he simply isn't accurate enough at this point to consistently complete tough throws in the NFL. Too many of his passes sailed over the head or bounced a yard in front of his receivers. In Pryor's (and Locker's) defense, the threat of his running allows him to be less accurate a passer.

Because the game didn't start until 10:30 pm EST, many didn't see any of redshirt sophomore Andrew Luck's performance against UCLA. Luck was his typical efficient (11/24, 152 yards, 2 TDs/0 INTs, 63 rushing yards) self and his Cardinal team thoroughly dominated the Bruins on their way to a 35-0 shellacking in the Rose Bowl.

Even still, while protected by a stout offensive line and an underrated receiving corps, Luck missed several wide open targets, including going 0-3 on some easy passes in the Cardinals' first offensive series. His two touchdown throws were easy tosses that any quarterback with a hope of making the NFL would make.

And so what does the collective struggles of these talented quarterbacks prove?

That - newsflash - playing quarterback at the BCS level is very difficult.

And that there is still plenty of work to be done by all six prospects before they are ready for the NFL.

Posted on: September 4, 2010 11:26 pm
 

Ponder spectacular, Locker merely good today

Completing 12 of 14 passes for 167 yards and 4 touchdowns in only a half of play today, Florida State's Christian Ponder may have narrowed whatever gap Washington's Jake Locker had above him as the top senior quarterback prospect in the country. 

Ponder did throw an interception, but he showed a live arm, as well as good accuracy in the short to intermediate range. Ponder commanded the offense efficiently and showed off his underrated mobility by completing passes, including his first touchdown pass of the year, while on the move. His four touchdowns went for 4, 15, 8 and 11 yards. One area in which he fared better than Locker on this day was the recognition of when to rifle passes and when to throw with touch.

In losing to BYU, Locker's realistic chances at the Heisman might be over. His NFL grade may not drop based on his play today, but it certainly wasn't strengthened.

In Locker's defense, there is a significant difference in the quality of defense that he and Ponder faced Saturday.

Ponder was playing FCS Samford at home. Locker was facing BYU on the road. Any question about how tough Mountain West teams at home were answered with Pitt and Oregon State losing to Utah and TCU.

And to be fair, Locker played a solid game. He completed 20 of 37 passes for 266 yards and a touchdown with no interceptions. He also ran for another 29 yards and a score.

Locker's trademark mobility, arm strength, quick release and, unfortunately, inconsistent accuracy were on display today. When he missed, he often missed high. Locker did show improved accuracy on the move, often drilling passes through tight windows when rolling to the right. He also drilled a few post-routes, giving his receivers plenty of open field with which to generate yardage after the catch.

However, too often in short yardage situations Locker elected to throw the ball downfield rather than check down to easier options. One such play came on 4th and 2 in the fourth quarter. Rolling right, Locker elected to throw the ball into the endzone, where a well-positioned defender broke up the pass. Locker released the ball just as his running back, Chris Polk, running a few yards ahead of him, appeared to be breaking free of his defender. Had Locker throttled down and thrown the ball over Polk's shoulder, it could have for an easier completion and a likely first down.

The opening game of the season is hardly enough to grade these two quarterbacks. Their race to be the first senior QB drafted (and perhaps the first quarterback, overall) will be every bit the marathon, rather than the sprint.

There is no denying Locker's upside. But there is also no denying that Ponder made the better, more consistent plays to help his team win Saturday.


Posted on: September 4, 2010 11:15 am
 

Five seniors I'll be scouting closely today

With three DVD burners running around the clock, I'll be recording nearly every televised college football game throughout the year. There is only so much time in the day, so I have to put some careful thought into picking the games (and more specifically, the prospects) each Saturday in which to scout live.

The game I was most excited about initially -- North Carolina at LSU -- won't feature nearly the individual talent that we originally thought due to the NCAA suspending 13 Tar Heels for this game. Of course, I'll still check out this showdown, but due to the odd circumstances surrounding the game, I'll wait to do most my scouting of Tar Heel and Tiger players until later games.

Each Friday night/Saturday morning throughout the rest of the season I'll put up a similar post as this one. Should you like to scout "alongside" me, follow me on Twitter @ RobRang

These are the five I'll be watching closely:

OL Mike Pouncey, Florida: There was talk that Pouncey might be switched outside to tackle due to injury concerns, but Urban Meyer put an end to that thinking with the announcement that his senior would remain inside, taking over for his twin brother. Miami of Ohio is hardly the greatest test Pouncey will get this year, but I'm curious to see how he makes the transition, himself, as well as protects new QB John Brantley.

DE Ryan Kerrigan, Purdue: Kerrigan is one of the better defensive linemen in all of college football. Despite posting 13 sacks last year, however, the 6-4, 263 pass rusher doesn't have elite speed off the edge. He'll get plenty of opportunities to rush the passer against Brian Kelly's wide open offense at Notre Dame, but if the Irish offense is operating efficiently, he won't have much time to get home. It will be interesting to see how often Kerrigan is able to make plays in a game in which the tempo is specifically designed to eliminate (at least some of) the pass rush.

S Duke Ihenacho, San Jose State: The Spartans are understandably a 38 point underdog to Alabama, but I want to see how the playmaking Ihenacho reacts to the speed and physicality of the national champs. Ihenacho, a rare 3-time All-WAC performer already, has feasted on his conference opponents. Unless he's invited to the Senior Bowl, he may never get another opportunity against better competition at the collegiate level than today. 

WR James Rodgers, Oregon State: This is another example of a talented player who has starred against his conference foes, but I'm curious to see how he does against a physical and fast TCU group that finished No. 1 overall last year in total defense. James' "little" brother, running back Jacquizz, gets most of the national acclaim, but it was James who broke OSU's single-season all-purpose record last year with 2,328 yards. In what has become, in my opinion, the biggest game of the day (considering the suspensions marring the UNC-LSU game), I'm very curious to see how Rodgers performs in what will be a bit of a homecoming for he and his brother. The Rodgers were recruited out of Texas.

QB Jake Locker, Washington: Admittedly, I can put Locker on this list every week -- and I certainly will two weeks from now when Nebraska rolls into Seattle. But for all of the hype surrounding Locker and the Washington program, as a whole, a poor performance in the opener against a proud (and I believe underrated) Cougar team could put a quick end to the Heisman and bowl game chatter. Washington has greater skill position talent than BYU, but I don't know that they are as physical up front. Vegas thinks this one will be close (BYU a 1.5 point favorite) and I agree. If the Huskies are going to win, it might come down to a Locker making a big play late in the 4th quarter.
Posted on: August 26, 2010 10:59 am
Edited on: August 26, 2010 11:11 am
 

Locker shows class with Touchdowns For Kids

Sometimes in my effort to get our readers the very best information on what makes a collegiate player a potentially exciting NFL prospect I have a tendency to focus on their physical abilities or potential to improve if placed in a different scheme.

In doing so, I sometimes miss out on opportunities to show the personality of the players in my interviews. CBS will soon be featuring an interview I did with North Carolina outside linebacker Bruce Carter, for example.

I focus much of the article on Carter's elite physical skills, the talent surrounding him at North Carolina and the NCAA investigation currently swirling around the Tar Heels.

I also asked Carter to break down his talented teammates as NFL prospects , but with that likely to make the article so unbearably long that many readers wouldn't finish it, I elected to save the part that shows some of his personality for the blog.

Similarly, I focused on Washington QB Jake Locker's surprising (at least to some) decision to return for his senior year rather than take the guaranteed money the NFL was offering him, as well as the improvements he's made in this recent feature article .

One element that unfortunately didn't make the cut in the article was Locker's passion for children and his work through UW's Touchdowns For Kids charity.

I asked Jake about his role in the charity work and what the program was all about following practice earlier this week. Here are his comments, as well as a link so that you can contribute , if you'd like.

"Our football team partnered with [Seattle's] Children's Hospital as a way to raise money for sick kids and their families." Locker said. "People can donate a flat amount or they can donate X amount per touchdown. So, every time we [UW football] score a touchdown, money is raised for medical treatment, travel expenses, whatever the kids and their families need. I'm honored just to be part of the program."

Again, the link to the University of Washington's Touchdowns for Kids is right here.



 
 
 
 
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