Coach's Corner

With it starting to be mock draft season and all, I thought this would be an appropriate time to go out of my league and suggest the Seattle Seahawks should still give heavy consideration to drafting the home town kid. That's right, use that 25th pick (was originally at No. 21) to select the kid from Ferndale.

It would be a win-win by all involved and besides, let's consider Jake Locker a natural resource of the State of Washington and face it, he does have tremendous upside at the most important position in football.

Matt Hasselbeck deserves another three to four-year deal with a bonus that will keep him in Seattle the rest of his career. He has expressed a desire to be a pro general manager someday, so why not sign him to a double deal; play him until it's time to quit the game and then move him into management and teach him the ropes just as he could teach Locker. What a great role model he would be. Not that Brett Favre was a great role model for Hasselbeck, but Matt certainly benefited from doing his internship under Favre while at Green Bay. With only a year left on the contract of backup Charlie Whitehurst, it could potentially save them a lot of money.

For whatever reason, there has always seemed to be sort of a silent "UW-off-limits" draft rule when it comes to our local pro football team. Even Huskies like Olin Kreutz and Benji Olson never seemed to be good enough to be taken by the Seahawks. Maybe it's because when drafting players right under their noses they tend to gather too much information on a kid or maybe it's that they don't want to put too much pressure a local kid. Of course there was Jerramy Stevens, and maybe that's part of the reason they've been shy ever since.

I will always admire the educator in Mike Holmgren, who made that pick knowing full well the risks he was taking. But after seeing the Hawks pass on UW players every year for almost 30 drafts, it appears to be more than coincidental. Why wouldn't you always take the best local kids just for what they bring to the fan base? I loved it when they took Marcus Trufant, but why not a Husky? Trufant has certainly worked out for them.

The Huskies and Seahawks co-exist in the same city, and seem to support each other both on and off the field. Heck, the Seahawks even used Husky Stadium one year and the Huskies are going to use Qwest Field starting at the end of 2011. I know the current Husky staff regularly visits the Seahawk practice facility in Renton, and we used to see Holmgren regularly attending Husky practices. We also know former Seattle Head Coach Jim Mora has been to a lot of Husky practices lately, and is a good friend to coach Sark.

Going through the record book, I found that since 1990, there have been 70 Huskies drafted and only four have been taken by the Seahawks. Two of those, Chris Rongen and Chico Fraley, were taken in the 11th and 12th rounds respectively, and those rounds don't even exist anymore. Only Stevens as a third rounder and Brock Huard, also a third rounder, have been selected by the local team in the past decade and a half.

In fact, since the Seahawks have come into existence over thirty years ago, there have been close to 150 Huskies drafted, and only 10 were taken by the Hawks - and most of those were late-round picks. I'm sure the NFL could care less about geography, but we're awfully provincial up here in our own little corner of the country, and it certainly wouldn't hurt their fan base to take a player of Jake Locker's popularity, for instance.

Now I know current Seahawks Lawyer Milloy and Roy Lewis are ex-Dawgs, but they weren't drafted by the Hawks. They had to play with other teams to win Super Bowls, I guess.

I also realize that Washington has not had a lot of draftable kids over the past ten years, but one would think that a local kid like a Jake Locker would certainly create a buzz and help them to continue to sell tickets. If Brock Huard can be taken in the third as a quarterback then surely Locker could be taken in the late first.

Jake Locker is a winner. End of discussion. He is probably the most popular sports figure in this community, with the possible exception of Ichiro. If they were to re-sign Hasselbeck to a combo-extension with the promise to move him into the front office, it would give them a great mentor to prepare Jake to compete with Whitehurst as the next Seahawk quarterback.

Jake Locker is a better athlete than either of them, and probably a better athlete than any quarterback I've ever seen play for the Seahawks. He has Michael Vick-type football qualities that will separate him from the field. When Whitehurst scrambled for first downs against the Rams, I could see Jake running for touchdowns.

With Andrew Luck from Stanford no longer in consideration to be the first pick, Locker's stock had to jump, but he just might still be on the board when Seattle picks, although many mock drafts have him going as high as 10th. He probably will be gone by the time the Hawks pick, because some team is going to like him and will draft him before the Seahawks get a chance. It only takes one general manager who will see his potential for that to happen.

I admit that I am a college football fan first and foremost, and really have no expertise or understanding of the professional game, with the exception of the basic principles of what happens on the football field. I was, however, an original season-ticket holder for the Seahawks way back when they started the franchise, and know I always cheered a little harder for any Huskies or Cougars who were on the roster.

To me, college and pro are really two different games with different rules and different strategies. The "Wildcat" has changed things a little on offense, and Jake would fit in there perfectly.

I would think with the connection between Pete Carroll and Steve Sarkisian, the channels of communication have already been in the works, and the Seahawks have already fully evaluated Jake. I have seen Seahawk scouts and their general manager at Husky practices and at games, so I know they have been looking hard.

I realize Locker didn't have a spectacular senior season - or career statistics for that matter - but he did show two important qualities all along; one was toughness, and the other was mobility. That toughness and pure athletic ability makes him a prospect, and after watching the Seahawks this year there is no question Locker has better feet than any Seahawk QB currently on the roster.

When Jake goes to the combine, he will knock their socks off with both his athletic ability and his character. Considering how important his position is, he will probably go in the first round somewhere. He needs to be taken by a team where he can sit and learn and be ready in about three or four years. Seattle is in a perfect situation to give him all of that.

It is also pretty obvious that the Seahawks really need to upgrade their offensive line, as well as a number of other areas on the team. Getting a starter at No. 25 in the first round might be more important, but if Locker is still there when their pick comes up then I'd love to see them keep this Washington player at home. I even think they should reasonably trade up to get him, if possible.

To me, this is an easy decision because of his extreme popularity in the Pacific Northwest. He could be developed over a couple of years and emerge as a finished product by the end of the Hasselbeck era. Until then, he could be their "Wildcat" and learn the ropes. It probably won't happen, but then again there is always a possibility. It would be a story-book ending to his Husky career, and would be positive for the fans, his family, for the team, and for me, of course.


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