I recently updated my 2011 rankings as well as my big board and figured I’d give a little insight to how I ranked the quarterbacks. The overwhelming majority of draftniks out there have Jake Locker as the top draft-eligible quarterback and many have him as the top player overall. I think Locker is an elite prospect, don’t get me wrong, but I’m not as sold on him as others. Let me explain why…
Andrew Luck is my top quarterback and top overall player because I think he’s the closest to being a can’t-miss prospect. Physically, I love everything about him. He has the arm to make every throw on the field, he can buy time with his legs and he has field awareness well beyond his years. I think too many people are scared off simply because he’s a redshirt sophomore. If he had played exactly the way he did last season and was entering his junior or senior year, I believe a lot of people would view him more favorably.
As for Locker, I also love his physical tools. And he may actually have a higher ceiling than Luck. However, I have concerns about his decision making. He has yet to complete over 60 percent of his passes in a season – a good benchmark for a college quarterback to shoot for – and throws far too many interceptions. In 2009, Locker threw a pick once every 35 pass attempts. Luck threw one only once every 72 attempts.
Locker also struggled with his awareness in the pocket. Despite having the athleticism to avoid sacks and extend plays, he’s brought down in the backfield far too often. Locker was also sacked once every 15 dropbacks in 2009. Luck was sacked only once every 49 times he dropped back. Certainly the offensive line plays a role in that stat, but Stanford’s line is certainly not that much better than Washington’s.
Ultimately, I think both guys will end up being high draft picks and they both have very bright futures. In April if someone drafts Locker ahead of Luck, I probably won’t argue with the decision. In fact, I may even change my mind if Locker makes major strides this season – he certainly has the talent to do so. But at this point in time I simply think Luck is the more NFL-ready quarterback and would be less of a risk for a team like the Bills, Browns or Jaguars to select early in the draft.