Jake Locker has had a bumpy road to the NFL Combine. His senior season didn't produce numbers to match his 2009 season, and injuries didn't help his cause either.
Washington didn't have a great team surrounding Locker, but top college quarterback prospects are expected to rise above adversity. Locker wasn't so lucky last year, and now he's looking at possibly falling out of the first round in April's draft.
This weekend will be big for Locker. If he can come out and "win" the Combine, he may propel himself back into Top-10 consideration.
Locker has to prove two things, one of them being that he has completely recovered from all the injuries of the 2010 campaign. The other thing to prove is his ability to give the scouts and front office executives what they want to see.
What they want to see is the Jake Locker of 2009, but just a little better. They are going to want him to be fast in the drills and accurate with his throws. He is going to have to be able to handle all the interviews with class and show he can think on his feet.
Locker was considered a true rival for the No. 1 overall pick with Sam Bradford in the 2010 NFL Draft, but Locker chose to stay in school, and that choice cost him millions.
Locker's senior season saw his numbers drop. Some of that was due to injury, but not all of it.
Locker only went 5-of-16 for 56 yards at the Holiday Bowl, and his week at the Senior Bowl was not impressive. Locker needed to have a good week at the Senior Bowl, but he didn't.
Locker can change all that by hitting the receivers at the Combine and doing well in the drills. Nothing can change his past game performances, but showing everybody he has worked on improving himself over the last month will show the scouts a lot.
Everyone understands a player can have a bad day, and that sometimes things just don't work out. The ability to bounce back from a bad situation says as much about a player as performing well under pressure does.
It comes down to character and ability. Locker has the ability, now he just needs to show the character. Locker still may not be a No. 1 overall pick when the Combine is finished, but if he does well enough to earn first round consideration again, then he will have done his job.
Fully participating in the Combine workouts will be a good first step. Locker has to show he has nothing to hide and that he can adapt to strange situations and new receivers. An NFL game can feature a lot of personnel changes depending on injury, so being able to connect with a receiver you haven't had a lot of time with is an art Locker should embrace.
The NFL waits for Jake Locker, and one team will call his name in April. It's up to Locker to make sure there is a race to get his services.
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