by Ray Kuhn
Player: Jake Locker
Team: Tennessee Titans
Draft Range: 145-ND (All ADP data courtesy of www.mockdraftcentral.com)
As Locker has just been named the starter for week one, and presumably the remainder of the season, his ADP will surely rise. The questions are how high will it rise, how high should it rise and should you draft him?
- It was not a secret that the Titans wanted Locker to be the starter this season, so this decision today says more about Tennessee’s plan and their view of Matt Hasselbeck than about Locker and his performance. As reported on the Titans’ website, coach Mike Munchak was not looking for much out of Locker going into their last preseason game (click here for the article) saying, “I think Jake Locker just has to do what he has been doing out here.” Munchak also added that he cares more about the Titans winning and moving the football than Locker’s individual statistics and performance.
- The fact that the Titans waited until Locker’s second season to name him the starter says to me that this was part of the plan they had when they drafted him. They did let him go thru the offseason, training camp and the first 2 preseason games in somewhat of a competition. However, they named him the starter on the heels of a subpar performance in the second preseason game. That leads me to believe that this was the plan all along because if this was a true competition, Hasselbeck would have been starting the next preseason game.
- Obviously this is only preseason, and there are many variables involved when evaluating performance, so you should not overreact too much to Locker’s performance. Locker was 4 for 11 passing with 21 yards and an interception, which is not a cause for overwhelming optimism. Naming him the starter after that performance does speak volumes about the Titans confidence in him.
- When evaluating young quarterbacks you have to look at the whole picture, and in training camp Locker did show his potential. He threw 3 interceptions compared to 11 for Hasselbeck (according to report), and was able to bounce back from subpar performances. There will be some growing pains with Locker, but the talent is there and you will at least see flashes of that talent all season.
- Jim Wyatt’s blog (click here for the post), has quotes from Munchak regarding Locker’s performance which go a long way to explaining today’s decision.
- We talked about the (Tampa Bay) game and watched it. There are a lot of things that you can turn a lot of ways in games. He made mistakes early but came back and made better decisions later on when he had the same decision to make. Like when he took off and ran, after we converted on a third and eight and had a first down and we had a penalty on holding and now we are third and 18, there was no one open and he got enough yards for us to make the field goal.”
- “He made good decisions after he made a couple of bad ones. I think you can find the positive in a lot of things and you want to see how guys handle struggling. Like today he had a couple bad practices and how he bounced back. I think that is another part of the equation.”
- Locker does have the ability to run the ball as well, which not only increases his fantasy value but it will allow him to move the ball and stay on the field. We also know that Locker has a big arm. He should have the return of Kenny Britt helping him, as well as the addition of Kendall Wright. However the biggest positive for Locker is that Chris Johnson looks healthy and is a weapon in both the rushing and the passing game.
Locker’s ADP will clearly rise after this news. He is someone that has a lot of potential, but there will be a lot of bumpy moments as well. Despite his ability to bounce back from poor performances and Munchak’s faith in him, it would not surprise me to see Hasselbeck at some point this season (although I do think Locker will hold on to the starting job long term). There will be flashes of talent, but some ugly performances as well. I think there is enough here to draft Locker as a high upside QB2 on a speculative basis and on a bye week fill in depending on the matchups. Before he proves to be consistent, I would not want to rely on Locker on a week to week basis.
Next year will be his breakout year, although it could come in flashes this year. I would not over pay to draft him, but if you have the bench spot he could be a good late round pick.
What are your thoughts on Locker?