BY Art Thiel 05:17PM 04/24/2011

Seahawks: Please don’t take Jake

Job of NFL QB is tough enough without being hometown savior — again

Jake Locker

Jake Locker needs an NFL job where he doesn't need to be the hero / Drew McKenzie, Sportspress Northwest

Hey, Seahawks: If you get a chance to draft Jake Locker this week . . . please don’t.

Not because of his perceived football shortcomings, or because I don’t like him. The person who does not like Locker does not like summer in Seattle, chocolate with peanut butter and Jimmy Stewart in “It’s 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 Cincinnati’s 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 agent’s services were the Seahawks and the then-Houston Oilers, each of which were offering similar deals.

Many figured Moon’s 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 Carroll’s happy blather about what a fine fellow and great quarterback he was in college. But Carroll’s 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 Korea’s Dear Leader.

Or Mel Kiper.

“You can mark it down,” said ESPN’s draft expert after the 2010 season, “Jake Locker, if he’s not the No. 1 pick, it’s 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 anyone’s No. 1.

The latest Sports Illustrated mock draft had him going to Minnesota at No. 12, yet other mock drafters don’t 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 won’t need much from a rookie but keeping the sideline clipboards in order.  After five seasons at Washington that included the lowest low in the program’s history (0-12), he deserves to be carried for awhile, instead of carrying everyone else.

That set-up isn’t 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.


YourThoughts

  • http://Seahawksdraftblog.com Kip Earlywine

    I really appreciate your work Mr. Thiel. I too, until somewhat recently, shared your disenchantment with Locker and had a fear that hometown expectations could burden a developing QB who needs as much breathing room as possible. Jake Plummer was a hometown hero for Phoenix, as was Brady Quinn in Cleveland. We know how that ended up.

    That said, I think if our front office selects Locker, it will be because they felt he was the best player available, and I trust their judgment in how fast they integrate him into the offense. They have a long leash from Paul Allen, so I don’t expect public pressure to factor too much. As far as Jake, I just don’t expect Locker to be phased much by expectations. He had to deal with massive expectations the moment he walked on UW’s campus, so this would be nothing new for him.

    Ultimately, I just want Locker to go to the right team- a team that runs the kind of mobility offense he could thrive in. Washington, Minnesota, and yes, Seattle are on the short list. So if John Schneider and Pete Carroll believe Locker is too good a fit and too good a talent to pass up, I’ll trust their judgment.

  • Dogstar76

    I don’t know, Art. Jake seems to enjoy and even thrive under pressure – look at the two USC wins.

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  • Jenkins

    I haven’t watched one live UW baseball game, although when Tim Lincecum destroyed the competition and went into the baseball draft, i felt the same way about the Mariners drafting him (2nd pick, 1st pick?). Would play out the way his detractors fortold: Too short, tiny stature, alien delivery that would blowout his arm within 3 yrs? I pretended not to hear it, and i was happy with Brandon Morrow as the pick, but every ounce of me wanted Tim to be successful and because baseball drafts are historically dicey i wouldn’t have been upset had we picked him, not knowing what I know now. Who would have guessed!!! I say DAMN!

    Tim was ripped far more than Jake by Baseball know-it-alls. If they take a QB at 25 and Jake is still there…. Take him. I love Gabbert’s ability to absorb playbooks, and he’s tall in the pocket, although Brandon Morrow had all the “intangibles” as well.

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  • bhamhusky

    Jake will be gone by pick 16. Art, your reffering to mocks that have him going in 2nd round are passe. If Jake is there at 25 the seahwks would be foolish to pass. That being said, Jake will be gone and hopefully we get a stud lineman

  • BigB47

    I love Jake Locker as a person, as a student, and a fellow citizen of Washington state. But I have never been a Jake Locker fan when it comes to quarterbacking a football team, at least one that needs to pass the ball. Jake will make a great CEO some day, but not a quarterback. Please, let us try to use the 25th pick wisely and get a quality player at a position we need. Then let us find a proven NFL caliber quarterback for the team and it’s future.

  • Inch12

    Quarterbacking a football team is quarterbacking a football team. There’s no easy place to do it. There is no difficult place to do it. They are all equally demanding. They are all equal in expectation. Wherever you land, you are expected to play winning football. If your team is a poor one, well, you do what you can with what you have, and try to make them batter. If your team good one, you try to do the exact same thing. Wherever you land, you must prove yourself, and improve yourself, the first day, and every single day thereafter. For good or bad, Jake Locker at this stage is nothing but a whiff of a potential.

    Beyond the ways in which his talents might (or might not) suit a particular scheme, all this BS about Locker *should* go here or there is just a bunch of noise.

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  • tim

    Well, at least it didn’t happen.

  • tim

    Well, at least it didn’t happen.

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  • http://twitter.com/kingwabbit Jeff Shope

    Hope you remember this gem when Locker is tearing up the NFL after learning under Matt.  We are so much better with Tjack than locker right?

  • http://twitter.com/kingwabbit Jeff Shope

    Hope you remember this gem when Locker is tearing up the NFL after learning under Matt.  We are so much better with Tjack than locker right?