Throughout his career the Jake Locker apologists have pointed to his lack of surrounding talent as an excuse for his poor performances on the field.
As I said once the Senior Bowl rosters were announced, and other agreed, with players like Titus Young and Austin Pettis on his team there’s no more built-in excuse. He needed to have a big week to justify all the hype.
So with his big week in Mobile wrapped up, is Locker still a 1st-round pick?
The answer should be a resounding no, but that doesn’t mean he can’t still sneak into the latter half of the round.
Nothing Locker did this week made him look like a 1st-round pick. He showed off his athleticism, but his accuracy – the single most important quality in a quarterback – was average at best.
What I find most concerning about Locker is the fact that he doesn’t have any obvious flaws other than accuracy. He’s a hard worker, he has a strong arm and mechanics are solid. With all that in place, I think coaches will have difficulty improving his accuracy.
Take Tim Tebow as an counterexample. Tebow’s accuracy was often shaky, but his mechanics were awful in college. It was easy to see why a coach would look at him and see the potential. He had the work ethic and athleticism necessary to give a coach, such as Josh McDaniels, reason to believe that he could develop Tebow into a quality NFL starting quarterback.
I think it’s harder to see that potential in Locker because it’s harder to identify something that needs to be fixed.
As for his 1st-round status, I now believe it’s unlikely that anyone looking to fill an immediate hole at quarterback would take a chance on Locker. He will struggle mightily if inserted into a starting role in 2011.
However, a team with a veteran already in place may be willing to take a chance on him in the late 1st round. The Patriots may be the most likely team to take that chance.
It was rumored that Bill Belichick had a strong interest in Tim Tebow last year. Locker has many of the same qualities as Tebow, and Belichick could be intrigued by the possibility of developing him as Tom Brady’s eventual replacement. With six picks in the top 100, the Patriots could easily justify spending one on a developmental player such as Locker while still having enough picks remaining to fill their needs.