Jake Locker probably couldn’t have asked for much more from his Pro Day performance Wednesday in front of a couple dozen NFL scouts and coaches at the Dempsey Indoor.
Locker was one of 11 UW players to participate, but was the main reason for the huge media gathering, surely the largest to ever cover one of these at Washington.
Locker (shown above in a Steve Ringman photo) did only throwing drills and could hardly have been better, hitting on 38 of 40 passes to former teammates D’Andre Goodwin, Dorson Boyce and Austin Sylvester. He missed only on two deep throws to Goodwin, each just a hair too long, and the latter one maybe a catch an NFL receiver would make. Two other throws were a little high and saved by receivers. But the other 36 were pretty much almost exactly spot on (and granted that the conditions were obviously ideal — indoors and with no pads, no defense, etc.).
NFLDraftScout.com analyst Rob Rang said there was no question that Locker helped himself.
“He has shown steady improvement,” Rang said. “That’s everything that they’ve been looking for is that 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 agreed that the Pro Day showing was the best of his “draft season,” continuing what he said has been a steady progession since the Senior Bowl, which he credits in part to work with former NFL QB Ken O’Brien.
“I think that each one I was able to improve on on the last and that’s how I felt today that I was able to improve on my Combine performance and be a little more consistent and fluid,” he said. “Very happy with what I did today. … I thought it was better. It was more consistent. There were a few throws in the Combine that I didn’t like, that I would have liked to do over again. Today I felt like every ball came of my hand good. I felt confident and it went where I wanted it to.”
Asked why he is throwing better, Locker said: “Just focusing on fluidity in the drop, getting my feet in the right spot, and one thing I worked with Ken O’Brien is bringing the hand over the top as quick as I could rather than dragging my hand. I had a tendency to do that sometimes and when I bring my hand over the top and really point that finger at my target I’ve been spinning the ball a lot better and it’s been coming out of my hand a lot better.”
UW coach Steve Sarkisian agreed that Locker looked a lot more consistent with his throws — he threw a variety of tosses, from short passes to roll outs to outs to deep balls.
“I felt he threw great,” Sarkisian said. “And I felt now only the ball coming out of his hand and accuracy but that his feet were good and that he had a great demeanor. It’s not an easy workout to throw that many balls in a row and I think he ended 38-40 and the two he missed were pretty dang good throws, too, so it was a nice performance.”
Asked how much Locker has improved since the season, Sarkisian said: “Quite a lot because of the simple fact that you can really focus on it. It’s a credit to who he is. As we’ve touched on, no one is going to work harder mentally or physically and he’s put in the time and it shows. He’s looked fantastic. As much as him throwing the ball and his footwork I liked his demeanor. He was focused and serious and that’s what it takes. This isn’t an easy venue to throw the ball the way he did with this much media and scouts and coaches. He was a real pro.”
He said not being bound by the NCAA time limit helps players once they being preparing for the draft.
“It’s just the amount of time you can focus on fundamentals, where we get hampered at times with the 20-hour rule limit and you are focusing on gameplans and things,” he said. “And at times fundamentals and technique can deteriorate over the year and when you get in this setting you can really focus on those things and I thought he was really clean mechanically, which helps yourself from an accuracy perspective.”
Locker said he has plans for workouts the next two days (this story says it will be with the Titans and the Broncos) and will have a few more later in April.
He plans to watch the draft at home in Ferndale, he said, though he did receive an invite to New York to attend it in person.
Asked why, he said: ”It’s an honor and I appreciate the invite, but for me I want to be with the people that have been with me my whole life and helped me get to this point and I want to share this 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.”
LB Mason Foster was the other UW player who worked out who is assured of being drafted, and he appeared to help himself with a 4.67 time in the 40.
Asked if he was happy about it, he said “Yeah, definitely. I wanted to run in the 4.6’s because at the Combine they had me everywhere from 4.6 to 4.7 so I wanted to reassure and run a 4.6 out there and I did that so I’m happy with that.”
Here are a few other notes and quotes:
— Danny O’Neil will also have lots of coverage on his blog.
— Here was the view of NFL.com analyst Michael Lombardi, who had said earlier in the week he has heard that Locker is as low as a fourth-round pick on some boards: “Some of the problems demonstrated, he’s going to take with him to the NFL, which is he’s going to have to learn to throw the ball better in the pocket. He’s going to have to be more decisive, more rhythmatic with his throws. And he’s going to have to be more accurate. And today, he was very accurate, but it was ideal conditions. So it’s a very difficult endeavor that you must move forward. If you like him, you take this workout and you move forward and say, ‘We can make him more accurate.’ If you don’t like him, you could say the workout was too scripted.”
— Sarkisian on what he told NFL coaches and scouts who attended: “Get used to coming out more, we’ve got some more guys down the pipe coming.”
— Sarkisian on what offense Locker would be best in: “Not sure in the NFL now if people run different offenses. It’s such a copycat league and everybody runs so many things that are similar that it’s hard to say that New England is different than Pittsburgh that’s different than Seattle that’s different than the Chargers. Everybody’s got their focal points but at the end of the day there are a lot of similarities to everybody involved. So at the end of the day I think he will fit in as an NFL quarterback. Things will be tailored to him ultimately like they are to every NFL quarterback but I just think it fits in.”
— Sarkisian on Pro Day Being big every year at UW: “That’s the idea. When you are having Pro Days and events like this, that means you have pretty good players, and that should equate to a pretty good football team. So the idea is that we are continually able to produce guys that the NFL is interested in and have a chance to play in the NFL.”
— Sarkisian on what else he saw besides Locker: “I loved what all of our guys did. I liked what Mason (Foster) did. I thought Victor Aiyewa looked tremendous. I thought Nate Williams looked good and D’Andre (Goodwin) and Vonzell (McDowell) ran really well. So all in all I thought the day was a success, not just Jake but the overall day for all of our guys.”
— Sarkisian on Mason Foster getting up to 248 and up about 10 pounds from last season: “He looked big, he looked good. Again when you can really focus on it and you’ve got really good eating habits and a little more change in your pocket to eat right, all in all he looked good.”
— Sarkisian on if Foster needs to make it as a special teams guy in the NFL: “Got to remember, he was a high school quarterback, so he’s got a very high football IQ. So he gets the game and you can put him in a lot of different settings, whether it’s kickoff return or kickoff coverage or punt team or punt return, and he feels comfortable in those settings. And when you are a linebacker that is the nature of the beast in the NFL. If you are a linebacker you play on special teams. So it’s gone well for him here and it will continue that way for him at the next level. I don’t think it will be tough for him (to adjust to playing special teams in the NFL) because he did it for us here.”
— Sarkisian on what can be learned about Locker at Pro Day with no one rushing, no pads, etc: “You are looking for mechanics to see the mechanics and footwork and ball placement, rhythm and drops and all those things. But two, how can he handle the setting, all that is going on around him, can he really lock in and focus on making those throws, and I thought of it all that was the biggest thing I got out of it, if I was a scout, that it wasn’t too big for him. That’s some of the biggest battles those guys have when you take that next step to go on to the NFL is the venue too big? And it definitely wasn’t too big for him today.”
— Sarkisian on if he’d be surprised if Locker dropped to the second round: “I would be surprised, quite honestly, because I think he’s better than that. Inevitably the draft is a draft and nothing is guaranteed. But the same way I wouldn’t be surprised if he jumped into the top 10. I’m just not surprised by that. Everybody wants a guy to be liked by all 32 teams and every analyst on every channel. The reality of it is you only need one team to like you and it only takes one team to like you to get drafted.”
— Locker on being comfortable being back at UW: “I think that the level of comfort comes more from spending four years with the guys I was throwing to. You know how they run routes, you know how they come out of breaks and that makes it a little different so it’s always nice to be at home but I think the familiarity with the guys helps that much more.”
— Locker on the process: “It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity and to have the opportunity to go through it is something I have dreamed about since I was a little kid and I have a month left and going to do everything I can to just enjoy it.”
— Locker on what he does now: “Just continue to work on this, go to the team visits and have the opportunity when you get in front of a staff show you understand this game and what it takes to play this game. A couple workouts the next couple days, then off for a little bit, and then going on a few visits.”
— Foster on the experience: “It’s a little nervewracking, but after going to the Combine and doing everything there you get familiar with the process, so it’s kind of fun to come out here and just compete against everybody.”
— Foster on if he looks at the draft projections: “I try to not look at that at all and just come out here and do my best , train hard every day and just know in my heart that I am working as hard as anybody in the country and hopefully hear my name called on April 28.”
— As I finish this, we haven’t gotten any official results. If we do, I will pass those on, or I see them published elsewhere I will link them.
— Among the many I talked to there was former Husky Anthony Boyles, who said he is finishing up his degree in History at UW this spring before moving on to Idaho State, where he will play next fall, enrolling there in graduate school. Idaho State plays at WSU next year and Boyles said he is excited at the prospect of getting on the field. He said he will be a receiver there and that ISU is running a Texas Tech-style four-receiver offense.
— We counted at least six former UW QBs there today — Brock and Damon Huard, Warren Moon, Hugh Millen, Sonny Sixkiller and Cary Conklin.
All for now.