Job of NFL QB is tough enough without being hometown savior — again
Hey, Seahawks: If you get a chance to draft Jake Locker this week . . . please dont.
Not because of his perceived football shortcomings, or because I dont like him. The person who does not like Locker does not like summer in Seattle, chocolate with peanut butter and Jimmy Stewart in Its a Wonderful Life.
The part of the world that knows the University of Washington football demigod is wishing him every success. The part of the world that will hire Locker is a pitiless machine that has only one need winning. All. The. Time.
So that part of the world needs to take Locker out of this part of the world and give him a chance to succeed without the pressure of the hometown college kid saving the local pro team.
It is too much.
Whether Locker is the right guy to succeed Matt Hasselbeck is far secondary to the fact that the Seahawks are the one franchise where the most difficult position in sports will be a tad more so for him.
The game is tough enough with a snarly 320-pounder in your grill. No need for a large primate lolling on your back.
The scrutiny for any QB draftee is immense, more so for first-rounders and more so in Seattle, should free agent Hasselbeck not return. Locker would have a reasonable shot at beating out current mediocre backup Charlie Whitehurst.
The scenario might not play out that way because once the business of football resumes I think that the players shortly will get their injunction in court to lift the lockout, pending an appeal the Seahawks will be in position to trade for a veteran such as Cincinnatis Carson Palmer, former protégé of Seahawks coach Pete Carroll at USC.
The permutations of filling the Seattle job are many, but none should include Locker. His position is a somewhat similar to that of another former star ex-Husky QB, Warren Moon.
After going undrafted out of Washington in 1978, he starred in the Canadian Football League for six years before deciding to return to the NFL. The primary bidders for the free agents services were the Seahawks and the then-Houston Oilers, each of which were offering similar deals.
Many figured Moons adopted hometown of Seattle had the inside track. But when he chose Houston, part of his rationale was that if he messes up in the place he lives, where does he go?
Houston broke the tie by guaranteeing most of the contract, and the Seahawks chose not to match.
Moon clearly made the right choice. He played 10 seasons in Houston, made nine Pro Bowls and was the offensive player of the year in 1990. He had a career passer rating of 80.9 and was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2006. Could he have done as well in Seattle? Perhaps, but his reasons for not attempting it were legit to him.
Moon ended up playing two years in Seattle anyway, starting 24 games in 1997 and 1998. But at ages 41 and 42, expectations were minimal. His performance did no harm to his legacy.
Some circumstances for Locker are different. Obviously, he has no say about where he will play. The Seahawks have given no hints that they covet him, other than Carrolls happy blather about what a fine fellow and great quarterback he was in college. But Carrolls rhetorical affection, or the lack thereof from Seattle scouts in the NFL backchat, is meaningless.
It is part of the 76-year tradition of the NFL event that much what is said before the event has as much believability as the harvest reports from North Koreas Dear Leader.
Or Mel Kiper.
You can mark it down, said ESPNs draft expert after the 2010 season, Jake Locker, if hes not the No. 1 pick, its an upset.
We all know how that went. Locker stayed at Washington for his senior year, he led the Huskies to a 7-6 season that included a bowl win, and his draft stock dropped. He never made as much as second-team All-Pac-10. No longer is he anyones No. 1.
The latest Sports Illustrated mock draft had him going to Minnesota at No. 12, yet other mock drafters dont have him in the first round. No premier player has received more widely divergent opinions, and this is after he has endured such intense scouting scrutiny that it must feel as if his entire life has had a colonoscopy.
Fans of Locker should hope that he goes to a good team with an established quarterback that wont need much from a rookie but keeping the sideline clipboards in order. After five seasons at Washington that included the lowest low in the programs history (0-12), he deserves to be carried for awhile, instead of carrying everyone else.
That set-up isnt one that, at the moment, the Seahawks can offer. It will be good to see him anywhere in the NFL, and he can always visit Seattle and Ferndale.
Many lights will be left on.