Former NFL head coach Jon Gruden, who now works extensively with ESPN, conducted a conference call today to talk about the draft and his QB Camp shows, one of which focused on UW’s Jake Locker.
Here’s some of what Gruden had to say:
Q. Can I get your take on Jake Locker? You seem to have a pretty good connection with him during that QB Camp episode. Wanted your take on how close do you think he is to the NFL level, and the accuracy concerns and other concerns you think he still needs to work on?
JON GRUDEN: Well, Jake Locker said what he was going to do, and he did what he said he was going to do. He said he was coming back for his senior year. He said he wanted to take Washington to a bowl game, and I admire that about him.
He could have walked away from the Husky program and potentially been the number one pick a year ago according to a lot of analysts. But he wanted to do what he said he was going to do, and that is a trait that I really admire.
This is one tough guy. I mean, Jake Locker has played for two head coaches. He had to endure an 0‚Äë12 season. This guy took a lot of punishment. The whole offense was built around No. 10. From a running standpoint, from a passing standpoint, this guy was involved significantly on every snap for the Huskies. He does have to improve his accuracy. But I think when you’re hit a lot and asked to do as much as Locker’s been asked to do, sometimes your fundamentals wane a little bit. They disappear in key situations. He does have a good, strong arm. He’s an outstanding athlete. He’s got very good elusiveness and straight line speed with some power, and I think he loves football. I think there is a real passionate fire inside this guy that somebody’s going to capture. He would be a fun guy to coach. I know that.
Q. To follow up on that, if you’re not accurate in college, you won’t be accurate in the pros. How much do you buy into that? Isn’t it more a factor of what the guy’s situation is and where he’s going?
JON GRUDEN: Accuracy can be improved. Sometimes it’s because of your fundamentals. Sometimes you’re out of rhythm, you’re in the shotgun, you’re underneath the center. Sometimes you’re under duress and out of rhythm. Sometimes you’re hurrying, you’re playing too fast. You’re anticipating congestion around you when maybe there isn’t.
I just think he needs to go back and reestablish his fundamentals and work hard at that. He’ll get the right position coach that’s going to help him do that. But accuracy sometimes can be terminal. Sometimes you can’t cure that. I think that is a big concern with Jake Locker, because he does miss some throws. But if you pick up the Southern Cal film from this year, if you pick up the Oregon State film from this year, you can see what this guy’s capable of doing. He can be a one‚Äëman wrecking machine. There is a brilliant talent inside this body he’s got. It’s a matter of regaining his fundamentals, confidence and composure a little bit, and he’ll be fine.
Q. When you were a coach preparing for the draft, was it hard to try not to put too much stock into what you see in the combine and pro days, and to sort of stay true to a guy mostly based on what he’s throwing?
JON GRUDEN: Well, that’s the million dollar question. You know, you’re going to hear a lot of guys drafted a little earlier than expected. If you just read the reports that the scouts have written about these guys prior to the combine, they’ll certainly elevate their draft status with a great workout at the combine.
Let me say this in fairness to that, a lot of these guys you don’t get to see do certain things on their college tape that you see at the combine. You see a quarterback take a three‚Äëstep drop and throw a slant. You see a wide receiver run a post corner route. You see a guy go through the gauntlet and catch six or eight passes on the move, three over his right shoulder, three over his left shoulder. So the combine, let’s not kid ourselves, is very, very important in terms of seeing some of these guys do things that you haven’t had a chance to see them do on their college film.
And everything you get on tape needs to be evaluated. From the physical, to the character, to the combine workout to the game performance, it’s big. Guys do sometimes I think overshadow at the combine, and take advantage of their one‚Äëon‚Äëone physical skills and really propel themselves in the draft, and sometimes that’s not right.
Q. What you make of the Patriots bringing in Jake Locker and Ryan Mallett for visits? Do you think it’s too early or the right time to start grooming a successor to Tom Brady?
JON GRUDEN: Well, if you watched Brady play last year you can see why he’s the MVP, 36 touchdowns and four interceptions. What a great opportunity to get a young guy that you think has tremendous upside for the future to watch Tom Brady. Just like Aaron Rodgers got to watch Brett Favre. Like Steve Young got to watch Joe Montana. Sometimes that’s the best teacher. When you’ve got a Pro Bowl, Hall of Fame guy, that a young guy can just witness and just watch behind the scenes. How he prepares, how he handles the pocket, how he approaches his day‚Äëto‚Äëday profession.
They’ve got some extra picks. They have a number of draft choices. I know well enough that they’re going to take some really good players with those picks, and I don’t think they care which position. But I think it would be a unique and tremendous opportunity for the Patriots to get a guy in their stable that they can develop. What better resource than Tom Brady?
Q. You don’t think it’s too early?
JON GRUDEN: I don’t think so. I don’t think you’re bringing the guy in to compete with Tom Brady. You’re bringing the guy in to develop. I think if you asked Tom, he’d probably look at it the same way. Though they could go any direction with these picks. But, no, I don’t think it’s too early. It’s never too early to have two good quarterbacks on your team.
Q. With the new offense the Seahawks will be running, which quarterback will likely be available at 25 that fits best in that offense? Also with the demands of that offense, would you necessarily rule out any of the quarterbacks?
JON GRUDEN: Well, again, that’s assuming Hasselbeck is not coming back to Seattle, because clearly Matt Hasselbeck under his tutelage from Mike Holmgren, he fits this offense. I don’t know that they don’t stay with Hasselbeck and try to build their team in other areas. They made a move last year getting Charlie Whitehurst. It all depends on how they look at their current stable of quarterbacks before they select a guy in the first round. But they’re going to know Jake Locker better than me, better than anybody. He plays in their backyard. He plays under Steve Sarkisian, a west coast guy himself. At times he’s shown he can handle the volume of that attack and make the throws that it calls for. But all these quarterbacks that we’re talking about have the potential to be very good west coast players under the new regime there. But it’s going to take time. Like I said, three of these guys are juniors, and a couple of these guys like Andy Dalton are coming from a no‚Äëhuddle spread attack that they’re going to need to develop these traits and instincts.
Q. Shaun King, one of your former players came out and said he wasn’t going to watch QB Camp because he didn’t think you were a great quarterback in terms of developing young guys. Do you think that’s fair? Is that what you miss most about coaching is working with the quarterbacks?
JON GRUDEN: I miss working with the quarterbacks. And I agree with Shaun. I wasn’t totally successful in developing all the young quarterbacks. Although Bobby Hoying and Ty Detmer did okay, and Chris Simms helped us win a division title. But I did fail miserably in developing Shaun King, and I’m sorry he’ll miss our show.
Here’s a clip from the QB camp show with Locker;
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