BY Todd Dybas 05:24PM 03/30/2011

Locker, Foster are pros at pro day

Former Washington quarterback and linebacker perform well in the next step during the long journey to the NFL Draft.

Former Washington linebacker Mason Foster ran a 4.6 second 40-yard dash at Washington's pro day. / Drew McKenzie, Sportspress Northwest

A swarm of media, former Washington players, current Washington players, scouts and know-it-alls showed up to ogle a handful of Huskies getting poked and prodded Wednesday.

The first Washington Pro Day with any flamboyance in years took four hours to complete inside Dempsey Indoor. It served as an episode of reassurance.

Quarterback Jake Locker’s accuracy has been questioned about as often as his character has not, leaving Wednesday as another instance to assess his progression. Locker was 38-for-40, his two incompletions coming on deep post routes he overthrew.

Otherwise, Locker, the awaited focal point of the morning, received positive reviews.

“Nobody is going to work harder mentally or physically and he’s put in the time and it shows,” Washington coach Steve Sarkisian said. “As much as him throwing the ball and his footwork and I like his demeanor, too.”

At least 13 NFL teams, including Cleveland Browns representative Keith Gilbertson and Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll, were represented at Dempsey Indoor to watch Locker and 10 others. The players were weighed and measured. From there, they participated in specific drills for their position.

Joining Locker were linebackers Mason Foster and Victor Aiyewa. Wide receiver D’Andre Goodwin, fullback Austin Sylvester and tight end Dorson Boyce caught passes from Locker. Safety Nate Williams and cornerback Vonzell McDowell participated, as did offensive linemen Cody Habben and Ryan Tolar.

Locker said Wednesday was the best he’s thrown during any of the pre-draft meat markets, from the Senior Bowl to the combine to now.

“I think each one I’ve been able to improve on the last,” Locker said. “I feel I’ve been able to improve on my combine performance and be a little more consistent and fluid and I’m very happy with what I did today.”

He received an invite from ESPN and the NFL to attend the NFL Draft in New York, which he said he’s been watching since he was a youngster, but declined. He’ll watch at home with his family.

Locker also said he has guessed at each selection while watching in the past, projecting when players may be selected. He laughed when asked if he had any guesses on where Jake Locker would selected. “That’s the one guy I won’t guess on,” Locker said.

Sarkisian said he’d be surprised if Locker fell to the second round.

“I think he’s better than that,” Sarkisian said. “Inevitably the draft is the draft and nothing is guaranteed, but the same way I wouldn’t be surprised if he jumped up inside the top 10.

“Everybody wants a guy to be liked by all 32 teams and every analyst on every channel, the reality is you only need one team to like you.”

There are several teams who appear to have growing interest in Foster. The pro day setup, measurements as opposed to actual football, is not a prime scenario for him. His skill shows better during the game. But Foster was able to increase his 40-yard dash time Wednesday, and felt he did well through agility drills.

He’s destined to play special teams for the team that drafts him. It’s the de facto process for a non-starting linebacker. Foster, who played special teams for Washington, said he was willing to do whatever is asked.

“I love to special teams,” Foster said. “I love to just run down there and hit anybody.”

It seems he will get his chance after being selected in the third or fourth round where most draftnicks project his name to be called.

Beyond those two marquee names, Williams is likely the last with an outside chance to be drafted. Both Foster and Locker have more individual workouts with specific teams lined up in the coming weeks prior to the draft, which is April 28-30.

For Sarkisian, this is the first Pro Day in his two years that was an event. The flood of media and scouts reflected well on the progress of the program, especially when it comes to the national media spotlight the university continues to desperately pursue.

It was even nerve-wracking for Sarkisian.

“I’m probably more nervous than they are,” Sarkisian said. “When the moment of truth comes and they actually have to go out and make the throws or make the catches and do everything they’re doing, I feel at that point it’s out of my hands. I think that’s when I get nervous. I thought they performed exceptionally well. I thought they handled themselves like pros.”

Which is what the day was about.


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