When the Tennessee Titans took Jake Locker with the No. 8 pick in the 2011 NFL draft, they were selecting the man they thought would be their future at the quarterback position. Now that he's entering his second season, it is time for the Titans to turn the reins over to the 23-year-old full time.
Titans head coach Mike Munchak has told The Tennessean that reps for Locker and veteran Matt Hasselbeck will be split evenly until a starter is selected. If the competition between the two men is even, then Tennessee should go with the younger player and not delay his development any further. The only way Locker can improve is by actually playing, and there will be enough weapons around him in the team's offense where he won't have to do a lot of heavy lifting.
Locker got into five games during the 2011 season. He completed 51.5 percent of his passes for 542 yards, with four touchdowns and no interceptions. His passer rating for the season was a very good 99.4.
His lack of consistent accuracy is a big question mark and has been the one thing that has always held the Washington product back, but he is incredibly mature and his intangibles are off-the-charts. That kind of player seems to figure things out in the NFL given the opportunity to do so.
Hasselbeck saw time in all 16 games for the Titans in 2011. He completed 61.6 percent of his passes for 3,571 yards, with 18 touchdowns and 14 interceptions. His passer rating was a pedestrian 82.4.
Granted those numbers came while playing with running back Chris Johnson turning in a subpar season and with wide receiver Kenny Britt missing all but three games thanks to a knee injury. But still, Hasselbeck was more accurate than Locker but didn't completely outshine him.
In 2012 the Titans will welcome back Britt, and expect Johnson to be back to the form that made him a three-time Pro Bowler. When you add in guys like Damian Williams, Nate Washington, Lavelle Hawkins and rookie Kendall Wright at receiver, Tennessee will have plenty of fire power.
It will be a perfect situation for someone like Locker to develop in. He will have tons of targets and one of the NFL's best running backs behind him. It's time to turn the team over to him.