BY Doug Farrar 04:50PM 03/30/2011

Locker ups ante (again) with impressive pro day

The final episode of the Locker pre-draft trilogy has a happy ending.

SEATTLE, Wa. – The hush around the field at the Dempsey Indoor facility while Jake Locker went through 40 different throws with three receivers for the coaches, scouts, and media in attendance resembled that of a coronation.

And while Locker didn’t quite meet those figurative standards with his performance on Wednesday afternoon, he came as close as could be expected in the context of the development expected of any quarterback in the pre-draft process. And just two months after a Senior Bowl week in which he resembled a third-round draft pick much of the time, Locker most likely solidified his status as a first-round quarterback with 38 completions in those 40 throws.

That Senior Bowl week was where Locker showed most of the traits that have bedeviled him though his time at Washington – the inaccuracy, the questionable decisions, the forced throws. But postseason work with former NFL quarterback (and current quarterback guru) Ken O’Brien in Irvine, CA., paid serious dividends when Locker showed at the scouting combine in late February with a sureness on the pocket he hasn’t had before. And in this pro day, he showed a much greater and more consistent handle on the short-to-intermediate throws that have generally been mysteries for him.

“I think it went very well,” Huskies quarterbacks coach Doug Nussmeier said after the fact. “He just showed who he is. The reality was that we did a bunch of stuff the guys in the National Football League are going to want to see him do, and stuff he’s already put on film.

“He’s had time to just continue his development. I’ve said all along his best football is still ahead of him. I think today was just another indication (of that). You watch how crisp his drops were, his footwork, the things everybody says he doesn’t do well, but you watch the improvement, you watch the progression … (he’s a) special, special player.”

The progression was obvious right from the start, as Locker displayed a deft touch on the flat routes and bailout throws he’ll no doubt need at the next level. Square-ins and quick outs to D’Andre Goodwin and Dorson Boyce were high at times, but the performances of Locker’s receivers matched his own; you could tell that the guys around him wanted Locker to succeed as much as they wanted to show what they could do.

He occasionally threw behind his receivers on timing routes upfield, and when asked to drop back or run boot action and throw at a 45-degree angle away from or across his body, he seemed to still need that extra millisecond to reset – it was on these types of throws where he struggled to keep his throws in bounds. But when he rolled out and threw to his right, he not only threw darts accurately upfield, he also showed that he could take a bit off and give a little more touch to the throws, putting receivers in position to take passes in over chasing cornerbacks.

Locker still struggles with crossing routes at times; you can tell that timing on certain NFL throws, even with receivers he’s used to in tow, is still a work in progress.

When asked how much the home cooking may have affected his performance in a positive sense. Locker pointed more to the guys catching those passes. “I think the level of comfort comes more from the guys I’ve been throwing to for four years. You know how they run routes, and how they come out of breaks, and that makes a difference. It’s always nice to be home, but I think the familiarity with the guys helps me that much more.”

And about the mechanics he’s been working to fix with O’Brien? “Just focusing on fluidity in the drop,” he said. “Getting my feet on the right spot, and one of the things I worked with Ken on was bringing my hand over the top as quickly as I could, rather than dragging my hand – I had a tendency to do that at times. When I bring my hand over the top, and really point that finger, I’ve been spinning the ball a lot better, and it’s coming off my hand a lot better.”

Jake Locker is still a work in progress, but NFL teams (and there were representatives from at least 16 teams, including Pete Carroll, John Schneider, and several Seahawks scouts) had to have been tremendously impressed with the growth curve. Some draft prospects wilt under the pressure of the need for sudden and obvious improvement, but for Locker, it just seems to spur him on.


YourThoughts

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  • Michael Kaiser

    Oh, Art, are you now even going to use the increasing popular animal-like terminology for a woman using the restroom–”pee”?  Come on, you already are cool.

  • Gc Rolander

    UW has managed to do what few other sports organizations–college or professional–have managed, and is doing a major stadium remodel solely with private funds… and Art still bitches. Who are you to judge how people spend their own money? Do you donate all your extra pennies to “meaningful” causes, Art? When you aren’t bloviating in your tiresome columns are you out feeding the homeless on your own dime? No? Then get over yourself.  

    As far as I can tell, Art’s only journalistic talent is his nearly super-natural ability to suck the enjoyment out of any positive story.

  • Don James

    Ignore the fools Art.  They missed reading comprehension.  It was snarky, far from personal.  Some guys get worked up over anything…. they squat to pee. 

    • Michael Kaiser

      If you are the real Don James, I always have wanted to ask you if you hold yourself responsible at all for what happened to the UW football program these past fifteen years or so as a result of your throwing a hissy fit and abandoning your players and team weeks before the start of a season?

    • Michael Kaiser

      And, by the way, I did think after the fact that the tone of my comment to Art–not the content–was arguably unnecessary.  However, as for my question to you, everything holds.

    • Michael Kaiser

      Lastly, if you do decide to respond, please confine your response to my question, not how upper campus, or whomever, “betrayed” you, which, as an aside, I find rather humorous coming from someone who walked off on his football team weeks before the start of a season.

      • Todd

        I love reading ignorance on the internet.

        • Michael Kaiser

          In fact, the more I think about it, I can not recall in the history of college football a coach walking out on his team weeks before the start of a season.  However, I am sure such a lowlife exists.

        • Michael Kaiser

          One last thing:  With regard to any argument that somehow what James did was justified in part by some personal statement he wanted to make and that, furthermore, the players do, or did, not hold it against him; the players are just one small part of a much larger equation including the University, Athletic Department, team, community, etc. that must be taken into account when assessing the impact of James’ decision to storm off.  Furthermore, deep inside, what do you think mattered more to the players once you wash away the emotion of their leanings on the issue–James stomping off and “making a point” or having the coach they came to play for remain as the coach?  

          • Ed

            That situation was far more complex than you know.

  • Noone

    Art, this is a long ways from the biggest capital project in the school’s history. The new dorms they’re building are over three times that amount, for example.

  • EugCox

    I gotta call B.S. on the $ ideas here.  WSU spent the general-account on sports, and then there general funding refunded from the D.S. legislature.  So the UW tries to be honest, and asks for some of the tax money that the UW sports game make happen…… and then WSU lobbies against Seattle taxes being used for Seattle fixes….. and the D.S. legislature says “no”, to using some of Seattle taxes for Husky Stadium.

    Do your research, Art.  We have had more than enough of poor/lazy “work” from you.