2011 NFL Draft Scouting Report: Jake Locker, Wash.

NFL Mocks is  rolling out our new scouting report template that brings you even more in-depth analysis.  We break down several key traits and grade them on a scale from 5-1.  The breakdown is that 5 being the best and 1 being the worst.  We then will give the prospect an overall grade that is also based on the 5-1 scaling system.  At the end of each of the reports we give an overall assessment as well as a definition of our grade.  This reports are rather lengthy but it really gives you a good feel for each player.  If your looking for a quick breakdown check out the top graphic which gives our strengths and weaknesses for the specific player.  So please continue reading to see our full scouting report!

Athletic Ability: Locker has above average athletic ability for a quarterback.  He has the skills to hurt a defense with his legs by out running angles.  Locker has good balance in his drop back and while on the move. That balance permits Locker to quickly set and rest set his feet towards his target. He keeps his feet underneath him which allows him to fluidly change direction.

Measurables: At 6-3 230lbs Locker has good size and bulk which is on par with the position.  Locker’s bulk helps him remain healthy after absorbing big hits.  Everybody expects to see a stellar 40 time out of Locker which could slightly impact his draft stock.

Football IQ: In this area, Locker has made improvements each and every year.  However, he is still a long way away from completely understanding the ins and outs of the quarterback position.  The biggest concern I have is Locker’s ability to make throws with anticipation.  His reaction time is slower than ideal which leads to throws arriving late to their target.  In the NFL the majority of those passes will either be intercepted or broken up.  This problem might also be attributed to confidence which would be a different issue altogether.

Competitiveness: Locker is a tough kid that gives his all on each and every play.  He isn’t afraid to stand in against the rush and wait until the last possible second to deliver the throw.  Locker’s career at Washington has been anything but easy but he fought each week to help his team win.  The fact that he remained positive throughout the struggles really speaks to his character and leadership ability.

Technique: Locker has not been asked to take many snaps from under center but he is balanced when required to do so.  On the few under center snaps I viewed Locker was balanced and quick to reach his hitch step.  I feel that this is an area that will not require much attention at the next level.  During his drop back Locker keeps the ball close to his chest and above his breast plate.  He avoids wasted motions which allow him to get the ball out quickly.  Locker does a nice job setting his feet and body towards the target and stepping into his throws.  However, he doesn’t consistently set his feet and that results in many inaccurate throws.

Arm Strength: The majority of Locker’s passes get to their targets quickly and with adequate zip.   On the intermediate passes, such as skinny posts, Locker got the ball their on a line and with a tight spin. However, on several sideline patterns the ball floated allowing the defender to break on the ball.  Overall I feel that Locker has adequate arm strength but not elite.  He can make all the throws in the NFL but those floating sideline throws are a concern.

Accuracy (short, intermediate, Long, on the move): Locker’s accuracy is a major concern and could ultimately lead to a short NFL career.  He struggles to consistently place the ball out in front of his receivers on short passing routes.  Locker fails to throw the target open resulting in fewer yards after the catch.  On intermediate routes the ball arrives late and behind the target, who has to stop his pattern and adjust to the poorly thrown football.  The NFL is all about ball placement and poorly thrown footballs are often intercepted.  However, Locker showed that he had good touch on this deep passes often delivering perfect bucket throws.  The Washington coaching staff did a good job utilizing another one of Locker’s strengths by rolling him out of the pocket.  Locker’s accuracy was much better while on the move which is something NFL teams will have to consider when evaluating him.

Pocket Presence/Under Pressure: Locker has the athletic ability to avoid the rush and extend plays.  He does a nice job keeping his eyes down field looking for an open receiver.  When forced to scramble he is able to reset his feet and body towards his target before throwing the football.  Locker has a good feel for when to tuck and run or when to reposition and get rid of the football.  However, the poor offensive line play at Washington often left him running for his life which could make it appear that he tucks and runs too often.  As Locker transitions to the NFL he is going to have to lean on this legs and athletic ability to make up for his other deficiencies.

Reading Defenses: While Locker has made strides in this area he still has a long way to go before he is NFL ready.   During his pre-snap reads, Locker routinely failed to identify the potential blitz and the result was missing his hot read and open receiver.  Locker has a tendency to lock on to his first read and force the ball into coverage.  He doesn’t appear comfortable going across the field with his progressions.  On several plays he immediately locked on to his initial target allowing the defender to get a good break on the football.  Lastly, Locker’s propensity to hold the football leads me to believe that he doesn’t diagnosis defenses quickly which is a direct result of poor anticipation.

Overall: What a difference a year makes!  Last year Locker was looking at a top 5 selection and now needs a strong Senior Bowl just to remain in the 1st round.  The fact that I was able to breakdown a lot of different games gave me a good look at both Locker’s strengths and weaknesses.  There is some upside for him but his lack of accuracy and struggles diagnosing information bring major question marks.   The athletic ability is present for Locker to succeed which makes it likely a team will fall in love enough to select him in the 1st round.  Locker will definitely benefit from the workout aspect of the draft process which will significantly help his stock.

Grade: 3.8-Locker has 1st round athletic ability but questionable feel for the position.  There is star potential but also bust potential.

Games Views:  USC, Stanford, Oregon State, Arizona State, Syracuse (limited), Nebraska, Arizona ’09, Stanford ‘09

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