- University of Washington QB Jake Locker continues to receive mixed reviews while preparing for this Saturday's Senior Bow. (Photo: Associated Press)
NFL hopefuls down in Mobile, Ala., continue to prepare themselves for Saturday’s Under Armour Senior Bowl, and as has been the case all week, the University of Washington quarterback Jake Locker remains the most scrutinized player on either roster.
Locker is working to show that he possesses good upside despite accuracy issues, and the views on his body of work this week are rather conflicting.
ESPN’s Todd McShay acknowledges that Locker is far from a finished product and would benefit from a year or two as backup so he can further develop. He believes that Locker’s outlook and willingness to work will convince an NFL team that he can be a franchise quarterback and is worth spending a high pick on him.
McShay writes: “We've known all along that Locker has the size (6-3, 230 pounds), arm strength and athletic ability, but the positive that came out of this week is by playing with better players around him, he is better than what you see on film when he was playing behind the line and using only the weapons he had at Washington. I think it also has been helpful for Locker to go through the process. He's showing NFL personnel and coaches that he's committed to get better and has good football character. He understands he's flawed and has areas he needs to improve on. … A lot of people around Locker might have hit the panic button, especially during the season when he and the Huskies were struggling, but he hasn't. He is still learning, still growing and what is natural to others isn't natural to Locker yet. He knows he needs reps and he knows he needs to improve.”
Meanwhile, The New York Times' Cecil Lammey and Matt Waldman have Locker among the "fallers" in their risers and fallers report from Day 3 practices. Talking to former NFL scout and "GM Jr." author Russ Lande, they conclude that Locker will likely never be a big-time franchise quarterback.
They report: “He’s a tough football player with strong fundamental techniques as a quarterback. But he has not been accurate. According to Lande, who learned his craft under the likes of Dick Vermeil and is known for strong pre-draft grades for Tom Brady and Marc Bulger, if a quarterback does everything well technically but still isn’t accurate, there isn’t much you can do with him. Locker is beginning to look like that player on passes in the intermediate range of the field, which is were N.F.L. starters earn their salary.”
McShay’s ESPN draft guru counterpart Mel Kiper’s view of Locker is more along those lines. Yesterday while speaking with reporters during a teleconference, Kiper said, “When you look at Locker, if you can’t get it done against college defenses, are you going to get it done against the NFL? He even had a second chance against Nebraska and struggled in that game. “Locker, to me, Kyle Boller was the same way. I said if Kyle Boller can’t get it done and complete a high percentage of his passes at Cal, how can he come into the NFL as a first-round pick?”
And as we know, Boller’s career has been nothing but disappointing.
Yesterday, I was asked what offensive guards seem to be standing out. Not being there to witness for myself, it’s hard to tell, McShay points out Georgia guard Clint Boling as a prospect that has done well this week. Boling has experience at both guard and tackle, but it’s believed he would do better as a guard.
McShay reports: “Having watched Boling on tape and during Senior Bowl week, I think there might be an outside shot he could get by at right tackle in the NFL. But I think he could be a really, really good guard so I would draft him at guard with every intention of playing him inside. The reason is his only real weakness seems to be the lack of elite agility or lateral quickness. The only time I saw him get beat in any drill or during team period was when a quicker DE, Miami's Allen Bailey, moved inside. Otherwise, he was efficient when he wasn't overpowering. He has good balance as a blocker, is aggressive and physical, and just knows where he wants to go. He attacks pass-rushers, does a good job with hand placement, and for a guy who's not a great athlete, he's capable of sinking his hips and getting good leverage. The best part of his game is his strength. He's underrated in terms of his overall strength and power at the point of attack. I think out of all the offensive linemen, Boling had the best day today and has the looks of a guy would could be drafted on Day 2.”
The Redskins certainly need to upgrade the left guard position, but they currently have only one Day 2 draft pick, and 41st overall might be too high of a pick to spend on a guard, especially if Washington has a more pressing need like a nose tackle where Baylor’s Phil Taylor is expected to be available, or a quarterback (if they don’t take on in the first round).
Another problem with Boling is, he isn't very agile and good at moving laterally, which means he wouldn't likely be a good fit in Mike Shanahan's zone blocking scheme.
Another player McShay pointed out was Alabama's James Carpenter, who is expected to go later than would Boling. Carpenter is more agile than Boling, and has a good quick first step. He doesn't always stick with his blocks, however, and needs to be more patient.
Update 12:25 p.m. The 6-foot-4 Carpenter's college weight last summer was 288 pounds, but at Senior Bowl weigh-in, he tipped the scales at 313 pounds.
Keep in mind as well, the Redskins have 2010 seventh-round pick guard/center Erik Cook, who spent most of the year on the practice squad, but with another offseason of development under his belt possibly could compete for playing time this year.