Washington quarterback Jake Locker is among the most fascinating prospects of the draft. His physical upside is just tantalizing; outstanding throw power, excellent throw accuracy, and a 4.43 40 yard dash from a quarterback who feels pretty comfortable in a pocket environment. He has a nice delivery, he is a great leader, his accuracy is shocking on the run and he has outstanding toughness and strength. He has God-like physical tools that could make him the best player EVER to touch a football uniform. His ceiling is incredible due to his versatility as a quarterback.
Yet, he is overrated...
Locker has been incapable of putting up above average numbers in his career at Washington (he is ranked (gulp) 81st in college football quarterback rating. There are 120 teams). That always concerns me. Most analysts shrug that off as a result of poor receiving play. Honestly, I have studied Locker heavily. Maybe as heavily as any prospect in the draft. And I gotta say; his receivers lack amazing physical tools, but they can catch as well as any group of receivers in the nation. I am also pretty high on Jermaine Kearse, Locker's favorite target, who possesses underrated size and solid athleticism. I will acknowledge that the offensive line is pretty poor, but the whole receivers excuse means very little.
Locker makes poor decisions with the football in his hands. When he is under pressure, he will rely too heavily on his arm to make an improbable throw that isn't there; leading to his high interception total and mediocre completion percentage. Locker is simply reckless with the football in his hands; he simply cannot afford to play like that in the NFL.
Locker possesses above average throw power but below average accuracy. He puts a lot of zip on his passes, but he isn't accurate under pressure and doesn't usually maintain good footwork in his passes.
Something I have noticed time and time again that is a major issue with me is the fact that Locker has an extremely low release point on his throws when putting zip on short passes. On any, typical, 5-12 yard throw, Locker puts nice speed on his passes, but the football comes out of his almost parallel to his neck. Locker is already slightly short for a quarterback (6'3). The low release point on his passes make him EXTREMELY susceptible to seeing interior lineman batting his passes down. This causes for a low completion percentage, plus a lot of these batted balls tend to get hit up in the air, and intercepted.
Here are a couple looks of Locker in action:
Highlights of Locker's Scramble Heavy Freshman Season
Highlights of Locker's Junior Season in Which he Passed more
Overall, Locker is an extremely raw prospect that will take years to develop. Locker possesses a strong enough work ethic to make his talent not be completely wasted. But still, it takes a long time for a quarterback to entirely change his throwing motion. And, even with more experience, some quarterbacks never learn how to make great reads with the football in their hands. Locker is the ultimate high risk, high reward, prospect, but he could be a disappointment for years. Personally, I'd take the much safer route and take Andrew Luck over Locker. Right now, I'd say there is a 50% chance that Locker will live up to 80% of his potential (80% of his potential is a borderline pro bowler). We will see a lot of Locker in the NFL, and I have a feeling he will be one interesting player.
Comparison: Jake Plummer