He has nobody to throw to.
He has no time to scan the field.
He’s still has so much room to improve.
There are hundreds of similar excuses for why Washington QB Jake Locker has so far been unable to capitalize on his incredible promise.
Over the last season draft analysts, announcers and college football fans across the nation have raked their brains trying to find ways to continuously defend the strong-armed signal caller who was once regarded as the number one prospect in the nation.
Amidst all the clamor to stick up for the senior, there is one lines of thinking that hasn’t gotten enough attention: maybe he just isn’t as good as everybody thought.
Sure, Jake Locker has tremendous tools. He has a strong arm, an NFL body, unquestioned leadership skills and tremendous mobility. But the NFL has proved year after year that it is not a league in which tools are enough for success.
Still, there is something about Locker that makes everybody want to forget history.
The most common argument when defending Locker is that his teams at Washington have had no talent with which he can work. His career 54 percent completion percentage is therefore not a result of his problems seeing the field, but the lack of competent WRs that he has to thrown to.
Ditto for his 53:35 touchdown to interception ratio.
The Senior Bowl was supposed to be his coming out party—his opportunity to show what he could do with solid NFL talent around him.
Only, things didn’t get better. He continued to have problems reading the defense, which is made even more troublesome by the fact that he comes from a pro style system where he is used to going through multiple reads. His week in Mobile consisted of him missing receivers, forcing throws and showing his lack of comfort in the pocket.
It concluded with an up and down game on Saturday. In a game that forbids blitzing and press coverage, a talented QB should have a field day against the soft Cover 1 or 3 defenses.
However, Locker was borderline miserable in the first half, getting stripped once, missing open receivers and leading Titus Young high and over the middle and almost got the Boise State receiver killed between the corner and oncoming safety.
Although Locker recovered statistically in the second half, he got stripped again, showing poor pocket presence, footwork and the continued lack of comfort going through his progressions.
For all the physical tools that Locker has, he has yet to show the mental make-up to succeed as an NFL QB, and that is perhaps the most important attribute there is under center.
If a quarterback doesn’t have the ability to read a defense, feel the pocket, understand routes and his own limitations, there is no chance that he will succeed in the NFL. We have seen it time and time again.
Just last year there was a prospect who was in a similar situation to Locker, former Mississippi QB Jevan Snead. Going into his Junior season in 2009, Snead was seen as an elite prospect after throwing for over 2,700 yards and 26 TDs for a Rebels team with average talent. However, his tendency to force too many throws and his inability to go through his progressions caught up with him and Snead suffered through a 2009 season that show him throw 20 INTs and plummet in draft circles, despite throwing for 2,600 yards and 20 TDs.
Was Snead the overall athlete that Locker is? No. But he displayed equal size, a strong arm, and better technique as a passer. So how does he go from being a sure fire 1st rounder to no longer being on an NFL roster? Because his mental inadequacies reared their head and showed NFL teams that he didn’t have the make-up to be a starter at the next level.
Taking a look at some of the most common excuses used to defend Locker’s poor performance, it’s just as easy to find examples of players who have either succumb to similar weaknesses or succeeded in situations where he has failed.