Tag:Jake Locker
Posted on: February 10, 2012 3:26 pm
 

Stanford, Baylor each schedule March 22 Pro Days

Unless Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III defy the trend of top-rated quarterbacks choosing not to throw at the Scouting Combine, talent evaluators are going to have a tough time seeing both throw prior to the 2012 draft.

That's because Stanford and Baylor have each scheduled their on-campus "Pro Day" workouts on March 22, according to a report from ESPN's Adam Schefter.

The conflicting schedule could force teams to split up their decision-makers to take in the workouts. This happened last year when the Carolina Panthers sent head coach Ron Rivera to watch Cam Newton's Pro Day workout at Auburn while general manager Marty Hurney reportedly attended Ryan Mallett's workout at Arkansas.

Another possibility, of course, is that Luck and/or Griffin could schedule their own individual workouts so that scouts could attend both.

If scouts are, indeed, forced to choose one or the other, the smart money is on Griffin generating more interest despite the fact that Luck is regarded as the top prospect in the draft. While both quarterbacks are viewed as exceptional talents worthy of top five consideration, Griffin has many more questions to answer prior to the draft than Luck.

Having established himself as the elite talent in the country two years running, Luck's game has already been dissected by most decision-makers. Griffin's ascension has been more sudden. Furthermore, scouts will want to see how Griffin drops back from center after having taken the majority of his snaps out of the shotgun while at Baylor.

While there remains some debate as to which direction the Indianapolis Colts may go with the No. 1 overall pick, they are thought to be leaning towards Luck. Should they take Griffin or any other player with the first pick, the line of suitors to trade up into the St. Louis Rams' No. 2 pick would be a long one. Should Griffin not be drafted No. 1, however, it remains to be seen if he generates the same trade interest or if he "falls" past No. 2 overall. Among the teams expected to be interested in adding Griffin would be the Cleveland Browns (owners of the No. 4 overall pick), the Washington Redskins (No. 6), Miami Dolphins (No. 9*), and Seattle Seahawks (No. 12*).  *Miami and Seattle's first round pick won't be decided until a coin-flip at the Combine. They may move up one spot each in the draft order after finishing tied with the Carolina Panthers and Kansas City Chiefs, respectively.

As it stands now, I am projecting Griffin to slip to No. 4 overall, where the Browns could nab him. Dane Brugler has the Heisman winner landing with Cleveland, as well.

Scouts are quick to point out that Pro Day workouts in which quarterbacks are throwing "against air" rather than defenses do not ultimately play a significant role in determining his final grade. That hasn't stopped the "Pro Day season" from becoming a huge part of the pre-draft process. Teams dedicate plenty of money and time crossing the country to attend the workouts.

I, myself, have attended several Pro Day workouts of highly regarded quarterbacks, including last year's for Jake Locker, Sam Bradford's in 2010 and Mark Sanchez in 2009.

Posted on: January 19, 2012 2:48 pm
Edited on: January 19, 2012 2:53 pm
 

Senior Bowl invites Washington "junior" RB Polk

Lost amid the clutter of the NFL's release that a record 65 underclassmen were granted special eligibility for the 2012 draft was the announcement from the Senior Bowl that ten Pac-12 players were invited to participate in the preeminent senior all-star game in the land.

Among the ten was a surprise -- University of Washington running back Chris Polk, who had been characterized by the Huskies and the NCAA as a whole to this point as a junior.

It had been presumed that Polk, who missed all but the first two games of the 2008 season due to injury, had taken a medical redshirt. As it turns out, Polk did not apply for a redshirt and thus, exhausted his eligibility once the Huskies lost to Baylor in the Alamo Bowl.
"We made sure that we followed proper protocol before we invited Chris and that entailed getting everything cleared through the NFL and Coach Sarkisian at the University of Washington," Senior Bowl President and CEO Steve Hale said.  "Once it was determined that Chris had exhausted his eligibility at Washington there was no question we wanted him on our roster.  He is an excellent player and has a bright future in the National Football League."

Polk was not among the 65 underclassmen granted special eligibility by the NFL for the 2012 draft.

Polk's addition to the Senior Bowl roster is a significant one. Ranked as the No. 4 running back in the 2012 draft class by NFLDraftScout.com, Polk leaves Washington having rushed for 4,049 yards -- the second most in school history behind Napoleon Kaufman, a first round pick by the Raiders in 1995.

Listed by Washington at 5-11, 222 pounds Polk is a surprisingly physical back for his size. Though he lacks elite breakaway speed, his vision, burst and determined running made him the MVP for the Huskies in 2010 over quarterback Jake Locker, drafted No. 8 overall by the Titans in April. Polk finished second behind former Washington running back Corey Dillon for the single-season record with 1,415 rushing yards in 2010. He earned First Team All Pac-12 accolades in 2011 after rushing for even more yardage (1,488), including posting 147 yards and a score against Baylor.

Polk is one of three Washington players to be invited to Mobile for the 2012 Senior Bowl. Joining him will be offensive lineman Senio Kelemete and defensive tackle Alameda Ta'amu.

The remaining seven Pac-12 prospects invited to the Senior Bowl are Arizona quarterback Nick Foles and wide receiver Juron Criner, Arizona State offensive lineman Garth Gerhart and wide receiver Gerell Robinson, California linebacker Mychal Kendricks and offensive lineman Mitchell Schwartz and Utah offensive lineman Tony Bergstrom.

Posted on: November 30, 2011 3:48 pm
 

Nick Foles signs with "super-agent" Dunn

With his collegiate career over, Arizona quarterback Nick Foles is looking ahead to the NFL.

The first step in that process is to determine which agent he'd like to sign with.

Check that step off the list.

According to Anthony Gimino of the Tuscon Citizen and a frequent contributor to The Sports XChange, Foles will sign with Athletes First, an agency presided by David Dunn, one of the bigger names in the business.

In signing with Dunn, Foles will prepare for the Combine and other individual workouts at Velocity Performance Center in Irvine, California. There, Foles will undergo training to improve his technique. Foles' father, Larry, told Gimino that his son will be working on his speed, agility and a "lazy foot" issue in which the record-breaking Arizona quarterback fails to point his lead foot in the direction he wants his pass to go.

Foles is expected to travel to Irvine and begin his training on January 3. Foles has been heavily rumored to be among the quarterbacks that several highly prominent all-star games (such as the Senior Bowl and East-West Shrine Game) have been considering inviting. The decision to start his training in early January will not affect Foles' ability to participate in one of these games should he be invited and choose to participate.

In three seasons as Arizona's starting quarterback, Foles produced some sparkling numbers. He completed 66.8% of his passes for 10,011 yards and threw 67 touchdowns compared to only 33 interceptions. This past season Foles broke several school and conference records. The signal-caller in a spread offense, Foles attempted (and completed) more passes than any quarterback in Pac-10 (or Pac-12) history. He finished the year completing 387 of his 560 attempts (69.1%) for 4,334 yards and 28 touchdowns against 14 interceptions.

There is a lot to like about Foles, not the least of which is the fact that at 6-5, 240 pounds he has the size NFL teams covet. There are some concerns about his arm strength, accuracy and mobility which have made some scouts skeptical about Foles' ability to transition to the NFL. Of course, another of Dunn's clients -- former Washington quarterback Jake Locker also had to answer plenty of pre-draft questions. He did so well enough to convince the Tennessee Titans to make him the No. 8 overall pick in last April's draft.  

Foles is currently NFLDraftScout.com's No. 8 rated quarterback potentially available in the 2012 draft. Only two senior quarterbacks -- Texas A&M's Ryan Tannehill and Oklahoma State's Brandon Weeden -- are currently rated higher by NFLDraftScout.com. He is viewed as a 3rd round value.

Posted on: September 12, 2011 3:42 pm
Edited on: September 12, 2011 3:53 pm
 

Nebraska CB Dennard still out with muscle pull

Nebraska cornerback Alfonzo Dennard was rated by some scouts as the elite senior prospect in the country heading into the 2011 season.

He won't be able to maintain that lofty grade if he doesn't recover soon from the pulled leg muscle that has kept him out of the first two games.

Dennard pulled the muscle in mid August and despite head coach Bo Pelini characterizing his star cornerback as "getting a lot closer" last week, Dennard did not play in Nebraska's victory Saturday over Fresno State.

Dennard, according to a report from Husker Extra, will not practice Monday. His status for Nebraska's first real test this weekend against the University of Washington is once again in doubt.

Asked if Dennard would be able to suit up against a Washington team that upset Nebraska in the Holiday Bowl, Pelini was noncommittal, offering only a "We'll see."

Steve Sipple, the author of the article for Husker Extra predicted that Dennard would sit Saturday.

Dennard, a shade under 5-10 at 205 pounds, boasts a terrific combination of agility, speed, instincts and physicality when healthy. He earned All Big-12 accolades last season with 30 tackles, seven passes broken up and four interceptions -- including one against Washington in their first meeting last year.

Dennard is NFLDraftScout.com's top-rated senior cornerback and currently ranks No. 8 on my Big Board.

The Nebraska defense has been a stifling one throughout much of Pelini's tenure, but the unit struggled, at times, last week against a typically feisty Fresno State team. The Bulldogs, known for their head coach Pat Hill's mantra of playing "Anyone, Anytime, Anywhere" led at the half 17-14 and was down only 28-26 early in the fourth quarter before Nebraska pulled away with a big kick return and run to extend their lead and make the game appear lopsided. Fresno entered the contest a four touchdown underdog.

Washington, on the other hand, has demonstrated a surprisingly efficient offense given the graduation of Jake Locker to the NFL. True sophomore quarterback Keith Price has actually been a statistical upgrade over Locker thus far, completing 70% of his passes with seven touchdowns against only one interception. Of course, these numbers were posted at home against Eastern Washington and Hawaii.


Posted on: September 3, 2011 7:55 pm
Edited on: September 3, 2011 7:59 pm
 

Washington State QB Tuel breaks clavicle

Washington State quarterback Jeff Tuel broke his left clavicle during his only series against Idaho State, Saturday.

The Cougars' star had been unable to start the game due to a stomach virus, but entered the midway through the first quarter.

Bud Withers of The Seattle Times described the scene:
Tuel threw only two passes on his drive for a field goal, but it may have been a scramble that cost him the collarbone. On a 2nd-and-6 play at the Idaho State 10, he looked for a quick shot over the middle, didn't see anything and ran to his right. He was flipped down at the right sideline, but got up quickly and didn't appear to be hurt.
Stopped for no gain on the play, Tuel then threw a four-yard flip to Rickey Galvin before a WSU field goal made it 17-0.

Tuel, NFLDraftScout.com's No. 6 rated quarterback for the 2013 draft, entered the season as a favorite breakout candidate for many. The 6-3, 223 pound junior completed 59.8% of his passes for 2,780 yards and 18 touchdowns playing behind a porous offensive line. He plays in a spread offense, but has the mobility to handle the conversion to a pro-style offense. Tuel has the arm strength to make every NFL throw and shows great touch on deep balls. Perhaps most intriguing, Tuel has played well when pitted against top competition. I scouted Washington State against Stanford (Andrew Luck), USC (Matt Barkley) and Washington (Jake Locker) and left feeling that Tuel had made some of the best passes in each contest.

Until more tests are run, the length of time that Tuel will be sidelined isn't known. Withers offered a "rough guess" of 6-8 weeks, citing the normal timetable of most similar injuries. 

The injury is a cruel one for the Cougars. Their head coach, Paul Wulff, is 5-32 in his first three seasons and is widely rumored to need a successful fourth season to avoid losing his job. Though the improvements in this team haven't yet translated into victories, Wulff and his staff inherited a pretty bare cabinet of talent and have rebuilt the program into one entering this season with quiet confidence that a bowl game was possible.

Even with the loss of their best player, the Cougars improved depth was obvious in their rout of Idaho State. (WSU ahead 61-20 in third quarter as of 7:45 pm ET). If there is a silver lining for Washington State, it is that they start their conference schedule against UCLA and Colorado, potentially two of the more winnable Pac-12 games.  


Posted on: September 2, 2011 3:42 pm
 

Locker, Smith star in preseason finales

Many critics panned the San Francisco 49ers and Tennessee Titans for making Aldon Smith and Jake Locker the seventh and eighth picks of the 2011 NFL Draft.

While it is impossible to grade either team based on how their prized rookies performed in one meaningless preseason game, it is safe to say that the 49ers and Titans' staffs are feeling pretty good about their selections today. 

Locker completed 15 of 17 passes for 132 yards and a touchdown. Locker also led the Titans with 39 rushing yards, including escaping the pocket for a 22-yard touchdown. While accuracy was a huge concern for Locker throughout his time with the Washington Huskies, it was clear the improvement he was making while working with former NFL quarterback Ken O'Brien. I saw the improvement in his throwing motion and accuracy first hand, traveling to Mobile to scout Locker in person at the Senior Bowl, sitting in the stands at the Combine while he threw and later at his Pro Day, as well.

Smith was a terror off the edge for the 49ers in their final tuneup before the regular season. Operating as a reserve outside linebacker and defensive end, Smith led the 49ers with seven tackles, including 2.5 sacks and four pressures. 

I was among those who questioned if Smith would be able to make an immediate contribution as an outside linebacker in San Francisco's 3-4 scheme. A defensive end who owed a significant portion of his sacks to moving inside to defensive tackle during obvious pass rushing downs, I still worry that Smith lacks the agility and flexibility to ever be a star as a true outside linebacker. 

However, what I didn't realize when writing my off-the-cuff grades during draft weekend was the multiple roles the 49ers had planned for Smith. These roles were made clearer during training camp and in the impressive performance Smith had last night against the Chargers. Defensive coordinator Vinc Fangio had Smith operating as an outside linebacker, but also dropped him back down to defensive end. Smith was at his best when at defensive end, routinely collapsing the pocket due to his speed, long arms and aggressive scheming by San Francisco, which used stunts to free Smith up. 

Ultimately, the fourth preseason game for each player isn't likely to boost them into the starting role. Still, the strong performances were exciting for the development of two of the 2011 draft's most hotly debated prospects.   

Posted on: August 20, 2011 3:01 pm
 

Pryor dazzles 17 teams w/speed. Less so w/ arm?

Former Ohio State quarterback Terrelle Pryor proved both dazzling and perhaps a bit disappointing Saturday in hastily organized "Pro Day" workout at a Hempfield (Pa) high school in front of a collection of scouts, front office executives, Pittsburgh head coach Mike Tomlin and even Indianapolis Colts' owner Jim Irsay.

Former Ohio State head coach Jim Tressel was also on hand for the workout, showing his support for the player some blame for the program's recent troubles.

Measuring in at 6-5, 232 pounds Pryor wowed onlookers with his straight-line speed early in the workout, posting times between 4.38-4.41 seconds on a soft FieldTurf surface, according to Zac Jackson's Twitter feed. The soft turf generally slows a player down, at least in comparison to a hard turf or track surface. Therefore, these are lightning fast times for Pryor; ones certain to boost the intrigue of teams considering the playmaker.

As impressive as Pryor was running for the stopwatch, he did not run routes or catch passes as a receiver and was apparently less impressive when throwing the ball. While he threw a tight spiral on many of his throws, he also threw a "duck" after instructing one of his four receivers on hand which route to run and there were several incompletions, according to Jackson.

According to The NFL Network's Albert Breer, Pryor completed 27 of 39 passes. Of the 12 incompletions, Breer counted four drops.

Having not been at Pryor's workout, myself, I can't fairly grade his performance during the throwing session. I have been to multiple Pro Day workouts from quarterbacks, most notably Sam Bradford's, Mark Sanchez's and Jake Locker's. Passes rarely hit the ground during these orchestrated workouts with no defenders.

There were 17 teams present at the workout: Buffalo, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Dallas, Detroit, Indianapolis, Kansas City, Miami, New England, New Orleans, Oakland, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, San Diego, San Francisco, Tampa Bay and Washington.

While the fact that more than half of the league's teams were represented at the Pro Day shows that there is a great deal of interest in the former Buckeye, it also should be noted that there were only a few decision-makers on hand. Most of the scouts in attendance were lower-level area scouts, likely close by due to their normal scouting responsibilities at local colleges during the late summer months. The Steelers, not surprisingly given their close proximity, were well represented. Besides Tomlin, Director of Football Operations Kevin Colbert was also reportedly at the workout. Irsay tweeted that his Colts are "not taking Pryor" though he also mentioned that his team is "evaluating the QB [situation]."

The workout, while exciting, isn't likely to change the opinions of teams heading towards Monday's supplemental draft. I've argued for a long time that Pryor is quite an intriguing prospect at wide receiver. He, however, has indicated a strong preference for remaining at quarterback, though he did tell teams and the assembled media at the workout today that he'd play any position asked.

As a quarterback, Pryor's average accuracy and decision-making means that he's at minimum a two-year project for playing the traditional quarterback role. He could, however, make a significant and exciting contribution early in his career as a glorified Wildcat option for a club.

His athleticism and size are such a unique combination that Pryor most likely will earn a middle to late round pick. Most expect that it will come in the 4th to 5th round.
Posted on: June 9, 2011 4:59 pm
Edited on: June 21, 2011 11:03 am
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