Locker can't completely shed accuracy concern

Jake Locker's pro day showed a more accurate quarterback without a defense in place. That's an improvement over game film that has analysts pointing to a consistent theme. See what they had to say about Locker's pros and cons at the NFL level.

According to reports out of the University of Washington, former Huskies quarterback Jake Locker looked sharp at his pro day, connecting on all but two of his roughly 40 passes.

But before fans get too excited about the possibilities – more likely probability – of Locker being available when the Vikings draft at No. 12 overall on April 28, remember that quarterbacks aren't facing pressure from a pass rush or even having defensive backs trailing receivers during their pro days. While scouts and coaches in attendance can pay attention to mechanics and footwork, completions aren't hard to come by during scripted pro days (witness similarly glowing reviews from some of the other top prospects at their pro days).

The real proof is in the film work, and that's where analysts like Mike Mayock of NFL Network and Mel Kiper of ESPN draw the majority of their opinions, not from scripted pro days.

"The issue with Jake is the accuracy, and the completion percentage is reflective in that," Kiper said. "And also you have to defend it by saying the receivers [at Washington], they're not up to the top standards. The offensive line struggled. He took a lot of hits. He played through the injury."

Last year, Locker completed 184 of 332 attempts (55.4 percent) for 2,265 yards, 17 touchdowns and nine interceptions, adding six touchdowns and 385 yards rushing.

Mayock believes Locker has first-round talent, but the need at quarterback with some of the top teams in the draft could push him higher than he might otherwise go. Of those four first-round talents (in Mayock's opinion) – Blaine Gabbert, Cam Newton, Jake Locker and Ryan Mallett – only Gabbert is a top-10 talent in Mayock's assessment.

"But there are seven teams in the top 10 that have quarterback needs. So what I think could happen – you've got seven out of the top 10, you've 12 with Minnesota, you've got 15 and 16 with Miami and Jacksonville and then you might not have a quarterback need until Seattle with 25," Mayock said at the NFL Scouting Combine after the quarterbacks had thrown. "So if one those guys don't go at 16, there's a chance he could go sliding down towards Seattle or past Seattle. If that's the case, you'll see one of those teams in the top 10 that didn't get him the first time around trade back up in the [first round] to get who they like."

While Mallett and Newton are tagged with the unflattering label of character concerns, Locker's issue is accuracy, especially inside the pocket.

According to NFL Scouting, 88 percent of his completions went for gains of 10 yards or more and 53.8 percent of his completions went for first downs. However, 18.7 percent of his pass attempts ended with a sack, pass deflection or an interception. He also completed only 29.7 of his third-down attempts.

Kiper also didn't like his Locker's fourth-quarter statistics, but he believes Locker was also limited by the offense and play-calling under head coach Steve Sarkisian, making Locker a hard candidate to judge.

"He's a late first-round possibility, maybe to Seattle. Any earlier than that – you just don't know what you're going to get because when that ball leaves his hands – sometimes it's on target, sometimes it's not," Kiper said. "He has everything else you want – intangibles, toughness, athletic ability, size arm strength, he's got it all. Instincts and that feel for the position sometimes make you wonder and certainly the accuracy issue. But he had a good Combine. He's gained some momentum. He had great interviews.

"… I also can't sit here and tell you that he's going to be a great NFL quarterback. I don't think anybody has that answer. You'd be guessing if you thought he'd be a great NFL quarterback. If you're not great against the college teams, are you going to be great in the NFL? That's a rarity to see a kid who was only around 55 percent in college to all the sudden jump to let's say 63 percent at the pro level."


Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.



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The real proof is in the film work, and that's where analysts like Mike Mayock of NFL Network and Mel Kiper of ESPN draw the majority of their opinions, not from scripted pro days. \"The issue with Jake is the accuracy, and the completion percentage is reflective in that,\" Kiper said. \"And also you have to defend it by saying the receivers [at Washington], they're not up to the top standards. The offensive line struggled. He took a lot of hits. He played through the injury.\" Last year, Locker completed 184 of 332 attempts (55.4 percent) for 2,265 yards, 17 touchdowns and nine interceptions, adding six touchdowns and 385 yards rushing. Mayock believes Locker has first-round talent, but the need at quarterback with some of the top teams in the draft could push him higher than he might otherwise go. Of those four first-round talents (in Mayock's opinion) – Blaine Gabbert, Cam Newton, Jake Locker and Ryan Mallett – only Gabbert is a top-10 talent in Mayock's assessment. \"But there are seven teams in the top 10 that have quarterback needs. So what I think could happen – you've got seven out of the top 10, you've 12 with Minnesota, you've got 15 and 16 with Miami and Jacksonville and then you might not have a quarterback need until Seattle with 25,\" Mayock said at the NFL Scouting Combine after the quarterbacks had thrown. \"So if one those guys don't go at 16, there's a chance he could go sliding down towards Seattle or past Seattle. If that's the case, you'll see one of those teams in the top 10 that didn't get him the first time around trade back up in the [first round] to get who they like.\" While Mallett and Newton are tagged with the unflattering label of character concerns, Locker's issue is accuracy, especially inside the pocket. 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