I know there is an official QB thread with plenty of Jake Locker comments (thanks ctrl+F!) and I was going to post this there but it looked ugly next to all the nice concise comments. I just wanted to see what you guys thought of him as a whole, since he's being considered as a possibility for the Niners in a number of mocks. I've watched most of his games in the past 4 years and basically, <strong>the guy worries me.</strong>
Full disclosure: I went to WSU and am well aware of my bias against all things purple, but I think both Mason Foster (LB) and Chris Polk (RB) are great NFL prospects - especially Polk when he comes out. That aside, here's what worries me about Locker:
He's always been the kid with incredible physical abilities just waiting to be unleashed. Always. The key phrase there is "...waiting to be..." For 3 years I've heard him and his coaches say the goal for the season is a 60% completion percentage. Years 1-4 respectively: 47%, 53%, 58%, 55%. Obviously that's just one stat and it does hinge on his receiver corps to some extent, but it illustrates a basic lack of significant improvement. With all his natural ability, it's tempting to say, "he could be coached up," and I think to some degree he could be. However, it would be nice to see a propensity for improvement during his stint as a 4 year college starter. Even if you throw out his freshman and sophomore years which were under Tyrone Willingham, one would HOPE to see some improvement after his Jr year and into his Sr year, especially considering Steve Sarkisian was brought in as head coach. (He was Pete Carroll's QB "guy" at USC and worked with Carson Palmer, Matt Cassel, Matt Leinart, Mark Sanchez etc.) However, he declined in almost every major category. I'm not saying he had awful numbers. Rather, he's always been the guy ready to bust out, and yet he hasn't even really improved.
He did show bursts of what he can do. The guy could throw a football through a wall, and sometimes, he hits his spots and looks like an NFL starting QB. However, he has yet to gain any kind of consistency with his passing. He'll make your jaw drop on a deep out one play, then throw a slant 4 feet too high on the next.
The running ability is there, for sure. He's extremely fast, elusive, and has run over many a Pac-10 defender. Then again, he's got an upright running style and is prone to injury because he's not much for sliding. I'm not sure how effective his scramble ability will be in the NFL where linebackers are bigger and faster, and he doesn't YET have the pocket passing game to keep them honest.
I think drafting Jake Locker as an immediate starter (or really as a starter any time in his first few years) would be a huge mistake. Given his physical ability, drafting him to a team with a serviceable veteran starter and a staff capable of teaching a QB how to succeed in the NFL seems like the best possibility for him. Is that the 49ers though? I honestly don't know. Can we survive with Alex Smith for a while longer? Can Harbaugh work magic with Locker? Is he worth a second round pick for the amount of uncertainty he carries with him? I'm not sure.
What do you guys think? Agree? Disagree? Especially if you disagree, what draws you to him and has you sold that he should be the next 49ers starting QB?