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The Titans' selection of Jake Locker at No. 8 overall in the draft has been subjected to much ridicule and prognostication. The organization clearly thought that this was their man, and wasted no time securing his rights. Only time will tell if their assessment of his skills and qualities were accurate or if this pick was an enormous reach, as many believe it was.
Even if Locker's future is shrouded in mystery, it has become abundantly clear that the Titans' options at QB are severely limited. With the departure of Vince Young a foregone conclusion and the recent announcement of Kerry Collins' retirement, it has become increasingly likely that Locker will be called upon to contribute to and even lead the Tennessee offense this season.
It is probable that, assuming there is a free agency period, the Titans will attempt to sign a veteran QB to start ahead of Locker. However, even this does not preclude Locker from contributing or even starting at some point in 2011. One need only look back as far as the 2006 season for precedent, when the poor performance of Kerry Collins prompted coaches to call upon first-round draft pick Vince Young to lead the team.
Expect to see Locker in action often in 2011, as his rare talents and leadership skills will be needed to guide a team hampered by rebuilding in a lockout year. Even if a veteran QB ends up ahead of Locker on the depth chart, he should see the field frequently.
Don't be surprised to see the coaching staff insert Locker into games regularly to get his feet wet diagnosing defenses at game-speed, regardless of the presence of an alternative starting QB. In all likelihood, new offensive coordinator Chris Palmer will design a number of unique packages to utilize Locker's mobility.
These notions, along with the general weakness and age of the free agent QBs, indicate that we very well could see Locker as the Titans' starting QB by Week 10.