The Rise and Fall of Jake Locker
By: Ian Kenyon
October 5, 2010
Jake Locker
Prior to the 2009 season, Jake Locker was touted by many as a "poor man's Tim Tebow" for his ability to break tackles and leadership ability. Somewhere between that time and March, 2010, Locker's draft stock sky rocketed, sending him to the top of almost everyone's rankings. There were expectations that if Locker would have declared last year, he would have gone ahead of eventual number one pick Sam Bradford. After declaring that he would return for his senior season at Washington, Locker was essentially penciled in by all draft experts as the number one overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft. Heading into the season I constantly heard the term "young John Elway" being thrown about describing Locker and his style of play. Only a month into the season, not only is Locker no longer the number one quarterback by most standards, many think he's not even a top ten talent. We'll take you through what has happened over the past year and explain why his stock has seen such drastic changes.

The Rise:
Locker became a household name after his freshman season when he threw for over 2,000 yards, was just shy of 1,000 rushing yards and accounted for 27 total touchdowns. Expectations were high during his sophomore year, but his season was cut short due to an injury sustained during a week five matchup against Stanford. Heading into his junior season, Locker was known more for his running ability than his passing ability. In his first two years combined, he had completed fewer than 50 percent of his passes and had thrown 15 touchdowns to 15 interceptions. However, he took a huge step forward during his junior year under the tutelage of coach Steve Sarkisian, who is known for being an excellent quarterback coach. Locker all of a sudden became a more natural passer due to improved mechanics and improved decision making. Last year he threw for 2800 yards, 21 TD, and only 11 INT while completing 58 percent of his passes. Although not spectacular numbers, it was a large improvement and scouting is based much more on the ability that you display than the video game numbers that some quarterbacks have at the end of the season. His rapid development along with his strong intangibles had teams salivating over his NFL potential. It's also worth noting that Locker's best performance of the year came on Washington's last game of the 2009 season when he put up 325 yards of offense, five touchdowns and zero turnovers against a good California team. This left a good impression in the back of everyone's minds and he was the recipient of a ton of post-season praise for his combination of arm strength, mobility, and leadership ability which led to him to a number one preseason quarterback rating by almost every reputable draft source.

The Fall:
The fall of Jake Locker can be as much attributed to the great play of Andrew Luck and Ryan Mallett as Locker's actual performance thus far. Once the obvious choice for the number one quarterback slot; Locker suddenly had two quarterbacks nipping at his heels. Andrew Luck has become the new favorite at the quarterback position while Mallett and Locker are now battling behind him. While Locker hasn't put up bad numbers this season, his week three matchup against Nebraska was an eye-opener. Locker was able to put up big numbers during the first two weeks against defenses that are average at best; the matchup against Nebraska would prove to be his first big test of the season. Against Nebraska, Locker looked inaccurate and indecisive as he only completed four of 20 passes for 71 yards, one TD and two INT. This performance gained massive media attention and brought his flaws into the light. A quarterback's draft stock should not be based on his stat line for one game. However, it has been clear this season that Locker is far behind Andrew Luck as an NFL prospect. Locker grades out to me as a mid-to-late first round selection and a solid starter in the NFL. While that isn't a bad grade, it is a far cry from "the next John Elway" and being the predetermined number one pick in the draft. He is going to have to continue to perform at a high level all year if he doesn't want to fall out of the first round because there are many quarterbacks that have outperformed him so far this season.

(January 12, -- In a couple of somewhat surprising decisions, junior WR Michael Floyd of Notre Dame and Oklahoma State sophomore WR Justin Blackmon have both decided to return to school next fall rather than enter the 2011 draft; both had been considered to be solid first-round prospects for the upcoming draft.
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