By now I am sure you have heard the news that the Patriots had QB Jake Locker in for a two day visit. This is somewhat of a surprise to most “experts” and probably to most Pats fans as well. We know that the team is set at QB with unanimous MVP Tom Brady at the helm. And we also know that the Patriots have not taken a QB higher than the third round since Bill Belichick took control of the team. So what is going on? Is Bill Belichick really thinking about using a low first, high second round pick on Jake Locker? Is Locker worth a high pick?
This interesting situation could mean one of two things. It is entirely possible that the Patriots are beginning to look towards the future and want to see if Locker is their man. Tom Brady is 34 years old, not exactly a young pup but not exactly an old man either. But remember Belichick’s philosophy in regard to players. First, no player is bigger than the team. Anyone remember Drew Bledsoe, Lawyer Milloy, and Richard Seymour? Clearly, if Belichick thinks that a guy is no longer worth the money being spent or that he has more value in a trade, he will not hesitate to pull the trigger.
Second, Belichick would rather get rid of a player too early than too late, a la Bill Walsh (remember Joe Montana being traded, the player most often compared to Brady?). Now I do not think the team is getting rid of Brady anytime soon. But we all saw how well Aaron Rodgers did after spending three years on the bench behind Brett Favre and then was given the team. Maybe Belichick is thinking that now is the time to consider taking a serious step in that direction.
If that is the case, is Jake Locker worth it (click on the link to get the full report)? Lets take a look at the kid from Washington. If you will remember one year ago, this is the same player who was thought of as the possible first pick in the draft had he decided to come out. But Locker chose to stay and his stock has dropped rather significantly. Why? He still has a very strong arm. No one questions his athletic ability who can take off and make a defense pay with his legs.
He has the size pro teams covet at 6′ 2 1/2″ and 231 pounds. He should be able to withstand the pounding that an NFL QB has to take. Locker played the last two years under offensive-minded coach Steve Sarkisian in a pro-style offense so teams will not have to worry if he can play in such a system.
But this is also where the concerns start to trickle in. Scouts and personnel people expected to see Locker take a huge jump this season in his second season in Sark’s offense. And that never happened. In fact, you could argue that Locker regressed. Granted, he did play with inferior talent. But Locker’s accuracy was average at best. The ball has a tendency to sail on him, which leads to interceptions in the pros.
Some are concerned that Locker’s propensity to run could lead to him spending too much time on the bench with injuries. So it would appear that his strengths are also his weaknesses. Here is what I think when looking at a prospect. First and foremost, look at how they played the game. Did they make plays or not? Forget all the numbers like forty times and bench presses. Does the guy make plays when he is on the field?
With Locker, despite great athletic ability, he did not. Is this a result of not enough talent around him? Perhaps. But accuracy is not really a talent issue but a QB issue. Ron Jaworski, a former QB and outstanding analyst, claims that accuracy is one of the most important characteristics at the position. So this is an issue that raises red flags for me. And I would think it may for Belichick as well. So Belichick must have desired a closer look to see if there is something going on that is not as obvious.
Or Belichick has an alterior motive in checking out Locker. And I have to believe that this is what I think is really going on. Belichick wants to make some moves in the draft. He is trying to create interest in Locker by making it look like he is interested in him. This may cause some teams, like the Bills, Bengals, Redskins, Cardinals, and Seahawks to panic if they were thinking that Locker would slide down to the second round. So they might be suddenly willing to trade up and hand over more picks in the years to come to do so. Sound familiar?
Is it possible that the Pats might draft Jake Locker? Yes. And Locker may turn out to be a very good player. But I believe that there is something else going on here. The draft is one of those times when the brilliance of Belichick is most clearly on display. And I think this move may just be another example to prove it. We shall see…