His accuracy, and lack of production, is targeted by critics. University of Washington quarterback Jake Locker, though, has attributes that more than a few in the league think Redskins coach Mike Shanahan prizes – and desires.
And Locker also has a big fan in longtime NFL scout Dave Razzano. A big fan.
Razzano, currently out of the league, served as an NFL scout for 23 seasons, with San Francisco, the Rams and Arizona, and his teams have gone to five Super Bowls. In other words, he’s rather credible. He also knows he’s going against what others say about Locker.
One note: he’s watched every game on tape that Locker played in college.
“I love the guy,” Razzano said recently. “He will only get better the better the team is. At Washington his line was always shaky. At times he throws errant passes; they all do. He makes the big-time throws. He’s a great kid. He has tons of athletic skill and he doesn’t take sacks. He knows how to throw the ball away. There’s a lot more positives than negatives. He’s a leader and will work to improve.
“I’m a glass half-full guy. The plays he makes, he can make outstanding plays on the move throwing down the field. That’s hard to find. Boy, when you can do it on the move that’s a rare quality and that’s what he does so well.”
Razzano likes him more than he does Cam Newton or Blaine Gabbert.
On Newton, he said, “I wouldn’t touch him. In that offense, you were going to score but when you watch him throw it’s scary the decisions he makes and the accuracy issues….Newton forces balls down the field. He puts them up for grabs. You never see him go through a progression. Someone will make a big mistake with him.”
On Gabbert: “He has a strong arm and is athletic; that’s what makes people so intrigued. But I don’t think he’s a first rounder. He has mobility and accuracy issues….He misses a lot of targets."
Just note: he’s not going by throwing percentages. In some offenses, quarterbacks will complete at least 65 percent of their throws simply because of the types of passes they’re asked to make.
But also note that Locker never completed more than 58.2 percent of his passes in college. As a senior he completed just 55.4 percent of his throws.
What does it mean? Razzano isn’t worried about that aspect of Locker’s game.
“He had more balls dropped than anyone in the Pac-10,” he said. “I’ve looked at Cam and Blaine and they have accuracy issues and no one says anything about it. There’s a herd mentality in scouting…. I’ve probably seen more of Jake than anybody. Will he be inaccurate? Yes. But the majority of times he makes accurate throws. It’s not a problem. It’s not a big issue with the guy. At times you do see it… But he has a winning mentality. He has Brett Favre qualities about him and he plays the best at the end of the game. He’s an easy guy to draft.”
Would Razzano draft him in the first round next month? Others would not; one scout said he looks more like a baseball player. But Razzano isn’t deterred.
“I would,” he said. “I may be alone in that but I think he’s a first-round talent. Is he Sam Bradford? No, he’s not the refined passer. He needs work and fine-tuning. But it’s the type of game he plays. When Brett came out, he went in the second round for a reason. There’s not a perfect player. But he’ll be a solid starter because of his ability to make plays with his feet and throw on the move. And they didn’t have a real good team up there. A lot of it is the team he was on; the line… he could barely get his feet set. I think he’ll have a good career.”