Jake Locker's pro-day performance raising his NFL draft stock?
Former Washington quarterback Jake Locker was fluid and accurate with his passes Wednesday in his pro-day workout at Husky Stadium, and his steady improvement has been noticed by NFL scouts.
Seattle Times staff reporter
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Hard to pinpoint any criticism of Jake Locker on Wednesday.
Not much to criticize, really.
That gives you an idea of just how accurate Washington's quarterback was during the Huskies' pro-day workout for NFL scouts.
Locker threw 40 passes, his receivers caught 38 of them, continuing Locker's trend of getting better during three months of predraft evaluations.
"I felt like I was able to improve on my combine performance and be a little more consistent and a little more fluid," Locker said. "I was very happy with what I did today."
Locker wasn't the only one who worked out at UW's Dempsey Indoor. Linebacker Mason Foster was timed running the 40-yard dash in 4.67 seconds, safety Nate Williams was also tested and Victor Aiyewa looked significantly bigger.
But Locker was the main attraction, even though he participated only in throwing drills. He waited two hours to do that while former UW teammates ran, lifted and jumped in the NFL's underwear Olympics.
Locker is why the Tennessee Titans sent a contingent that included executives Ruston Webster and Lake Dawson and offensive coordinator Chris Palmer. The Cleveland Browns sent Keith Gilbertson while Seahawks general manager John Schneider and coach Pete Carroll both watched.
The lineage of Huskies passers that preceded Locker in the NFL was more than just a metaphor Wednesday. Sonny Sixkiller, Warren Moon and Damon Huard watched the workout, Cary Conklin evaluated it as a scout with the Lions, while Brock Huard and Hugh Millen covered it as analysts.
Describing what Locker did during the workout is easier than defining what it means, though. Locker is one of the more polarizing players in this year's draft. That's an adjective that probably has never been applied to the small-town kid from Ferndale who stayed close to home, turned down millions to play his senior season and finished his college career as one of the most popular Huskies ever.
But of the four quarterbacks considered first-round talents in this draft, Locker might have the widest range of evaluations. Some may see him as a potential franchise piece. Others consider him a project.
"There is a tremendous variance in where people think he's going to go," said Michael Lombardi, former NFL executive.
Lombardi attended Wednesday's workout, reporting for the NFL Network.
"At the end of the day for me, I think when you watch Jake Locker, he's a potential starter in the NFL," Lombardi said. "That's the most you can say at this point in his career. He's a potential starter."
Lombardi said that type of prospect is one he would target in the third or fourth round.
But where a player is chosen doesn't depend on the lowest appraisals. It's not even an average or a consensus of league opinions. It takes only one team to be convinced, and right now there are several on Locker's tail. The Jaguars met with him after Wednesday's workout. The Titans are holding a private workout with him Thursday.
And the one thing that Locker has shown throughout the three months leading up to the draft is an upward trajectory. After a shaky week of practice at the Senior Bowl in late January, Locker was markedly better during his workout at the NFL Scouting Combine in February. Wednesday's workout was another positive step.
One NFL scout said it was the best Locker has looked. He was natural and confident in his throws, fluid in his mechanics. And while it was in a controlled environment without a defense, it also showed that perhaps the injuries last season affected his performance more than was ever let on.
"He has shown steady improvement," said Rob Rang of NFLDraftScout.com, one of the nation's top draft analysts. "You wanted to see the improvement from obviously when he played here (at Washington) to the Senior Bowl to the combine to his pro day. And that's what they've seen.
"I think that there is evidence teams are looking for that — with development — he could absolutely be a face-of-the-franchise starting quarterback."
Locker will be one of the most compelling stories of this draft, and he was invited by the NFL to attend the draft in New York when it begins April 28. He politely declined and plans to watch it from home in Ferndale.
"I want to be with the people that have been with me my whole life and helped me get to this point," Locker said. "I want to share that experience with them, and not all of them would be able to come to New York with me.
"So for me, it makes more sense to be at home where I grew up and where this all started."
Danny O'Neil: 206-464-2364 or email@example.com
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