NFL Draft 2011: Coming Full Circle on Jake Locker

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NFL Draft 2011: Coming Full Circle on Jake Locker
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After the 2009 season, I was convinced that Jake Locker was the best quarterback in college and worthy of the No. 1 pick overall or at least a top-10 pick. The comparisons to Steve Young were out there.

I did not think there was a way that he could significantly hurt his stock during the 2010 season.

Wow, was I wrong.

Instead of improving in 2010, his completion percentage dropped from 58.2 percent in 2009 to 55.4. He also threw for less yards and the Washington Huskies team did not make the leap that many thought that it would under Locker's senior leadership.

As a San Francisco 49er fan, I did not want Locker in the first round. I wasn't even sure if I wanted him in the second round.

I questioned how he could not improve his mechanics under Steve Sarkisian. If Sarkisian could not fix Jake Locker, then how could an NFL QB coach? Even the 49ers with Jim Harbaugh could probably not make him a top-notch quarterback, right?

Then came the NFL combine.

The first piece of information I saw that started to re-change my mind on Locker was Mike Mayock's breakdown. He looked at all the tape and said that Locker's accuracy problems were mostly due to his footwork, which is curable.

Of course, there were his physical numbers. For all of the people who celebrate Cam Newton's athletic ability, Jake Locker matched him or surpassed him in most of the physical categories.

My mind started to change—and then I heard Locker interviewed on the NFL Network.

When asked about his accuracy issues, he said that a lot of them were due to the fact that he worked on his decision-making. During his junior year he would try and fit balls into small spaces. Some of those were caught and some were batted down or intercepted.

He said that during his senior season he learned to throw the ball away when his receivers were not open, and the stats show that. While his completion percentage went down, he also threw two fewer interceptions and took nine less sacks.

Locker is a leader, a hard worker, and has experience in a pro-style offense. He does need some work, but he needs to fix less things than other NFL QB prospects.

He was once my favorite quarterback prospect, then a player I hoped my team would not draft, and now he is my favorite NFL QB prospect once again. I have come full circle on Jake Locker.

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