Jake Locker shows the NFL scouts his speed and better passing touch
Improved accuracy helps Jake Locker at NFL combine
Seattle Times staff reporter
INDIANAPOLIS — Jake Locker wasn't quite as fast as initially reported at the NFL Scouting Combine on Sunday.
He was, however, a little more accurate than some anticipated.
And he left Indianapolis with no regrets after getting the NFL's stiffest predraft once-over.
"I thought it went well overall," Locker said. "I thought I showed what I can do. Obviously, you want to do as well as you can. You want to compete with the other guys, and I felt I stacked up pretty well."
Now it's up to the draft analysts — and ultimately the NFL's 32 teams — to see whether he will become the first quarterback from Washington chosen in the first round of the NFL draft.
But there was a consensus Sunday that this constituted a step forward from Locker's week of practice before the Senior Bowl in Alabama last month.
"He helped himself," said Rob Rang, a senior draft analyst from NFLDraftScout.com. "That's not entirely unexpected. I think that we all thought he would help himself during the interview process, during the athletic portion of the drills of the combine."
Locker ran the 40-yard dash Sunday morning, and his time was initially recorded by the NFL Network as 4.52 seconds, faster than all but three quarterbacks at the combine over the past five years. The official time, however, was posted as 4.59, tied with Cam Newton for third-fastest among all quarterbacks this year. Tyrod Taylor of West Virginia — who ran in the second group of quarterbacks — was the fastest at his position at 4.51 seconds.
Locker was fast. Maybe not as fast as some thought after talk of running in the 4.4s, but he was plenty fast. The more important thing was the throwing drills.
He wasn't perfect. Two of the three curl throws he was asked to throw were off line. But he was at his best throwing downfield, specifically on the post-corner route and the deep ball that are considered most difficult for a quarterback.
"His arm strength stood out in a group that had some other very impressive quarterbacks," Rang said. "So I think that he helped himself."
Mike Mayock is a draft analyst for the league's official television network, someone who won't rank a player until he's studied extensive film. What were his impressions of Locker?
"It looked like he hit that back foot and got the ball out," Mayock said.
That's a compliment. It means Locker was following the coach's instructions, throwing to a spot rather than reading off the receiver.
Mayock has said consistently that he sees four quarterbacks available in this draft with first-round ability: Locker, Blaine Gabbert of Missouri, Newton of Auburn and Ryan Mallett of Arkansas.
Of those four, Mallett was the most impressive throwing the ball Sunday, which was hardly a surprise. His arm isn't in nearly as much doubt as his citizenship and decision-making. Newton was uneven in his throws, and while Gabbert opted not to throw, he was the only one of those four quarterbacks Mayock would declare a definite top-10 pick.
Locker's draft status has been scrutinized throughout his senior season at Washington. After beginning the season projected as the No. 1 overall choice by several analysts, he came to Indianapolis no longer considered a lock for the first round. As Rang said, it's clear he's still in that conversation.
No Washington quarterback has ever been chosen in the first round of the NFL draft. Marques Tuiasosopo — chosen in the second round in 2001 — is the earliest a Husky quarterback has been chosen.
Locker's next league-wide audition will be March 30 when he is expected to take part in Washington's pro day on the UW campus.
What happened Sunday doesn't solidify anything for Locker. After all, the combine is just one part of the analysis. What he did was verify that he is a superb athlete. He showed an ability to execute the most difficult throws and left Indianapolis with no regrets.
"I've approached it the same way all the way through," Locker said. "To do as well as I can and make sure I don't let an opportunity slip through my hands."
He certainly didn't this weekend.
Danny O'Neil: 206-464-2364 or email@example.com
|A history of Husky passers|
|A look at all the Washington quarterbacks drafted into the NFL over the past 30 years.|
|Marques Tuiasosopo||2001||Oakland||2 (59)|
|Billy Joe Hobert||1993||Oakland||3 (58)|
|Hugh Millen||1986||L.A. Rams||3 (71)|
|Chris Chandler||1988||Indianapolis||3 (76)|
|Brock Huard||1999||Seattle||3 (77)|
|Cary Conklin||1990||Washington||4 (86)|
|Tom Flick||1981||Washington||4 (90)|
|Isaiah Stanback||2007||Dallas||4 (103)|
|Steve Pelluer||1984||Dallas||5 (113)|
|Mark Brunell||1993||Green Bay||5 (118)|
|Cody Pickett||2004||San Francisco||7 (217)|
* Overall pick in parentheses
Note: Tuiasosopo is the only UW quarterback chosen in the second round, though Hobert was actually picked with an earlier overall selection because there were fewer teams in the NFL at the time.