Saturday is show time for University of Washington quarterback Jake Locker. That’s when he’ll get to take the field at Lucas Oil Stadium and attempt to make NFL scouts forget about all the errant passes he threw a month ago at the Senior Bowl.
While Auburn quarterback Cam Newton remains the star attraction at this week’s scouting combine, Locker will garner more than his share of attention, and certainly has the most at stake among the small contingent of players from the state of Washington.
While several draft analysts dropped Locker down to the second round after his uneven performance during the Senior Bowl, his stock appears to be on the rise again, with several mock drafts penciling him at No. 25, staying home and playing for the Seattle Seahawks.
And that makes some sense. Seattle coach Pete Carroll probably knows Locker better than any coach in the NFL because he faced him while serving as coach at USC, and his good friend and former offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian coached him for two years while Locker was with the Huskies.
The Seahawks are looking for a quarterback to develop for the future, while still determining whether to offer starting quarterback Matt Hasselbeck a contract extension to remain with the team, along with reserve quarterback Charlie Whitehurst. That means Locker would not have to play right away.
Here’s what Carroll had to say about Locker last month.
“I’ve always said Jake is a great, competitive football player,” Carroll said. “I thought he was one of the best guys I ever saw come into the Pac-10 at the time. There’s a lot of work to be done.
“I think he’s going to give anybody a really good football player. I don’t know where he fits or any of that kind of stuff right now, it’s way too early to say that, but I’m just really going off what I felt competing against him in college. He’s a very exciting football player – exciting kid, too.”
The state participants:
Reid Forrest, kicker, Washington State: A Ray Guy semifinalist, Forrest averaged 45.7 yards a punt during his senior season, including a career-long 84-yarder.
Mason Foster, linebacker, Washington: Turned some heads at the Senior Bowl in January with his consistent play. Foster could wind up a surprise third-round selection like his former UW teammate Donald Bulter (San Diego) last season.
Taiwan Jones, running back, Eastern Washington: Helped the Eagles to the Football Championship Subdivision championship, but did not play in the final two games after suffering a broken left foot in the quarterfinals. Jones will not participate in workouts this week, but plans to test during a pro day in California on March 31. Rushed for 1,742 yards and 14 touchdowns in 2010, and averaged an impressive 7.9 yards per carry during his college career
Alex Linnenkohl, center, Oregon State: A three-year starter for the Beavers, the Capital High of Olympia graduate has to prove he’s stout and athletic enough to man the middle at 6-foot-2, 300 pounds.
Jake Locker, quarterback, Washington: Locker needs to show skeptics that he can be accurate throwing the ball in the pocket.
Caleb Schlauderaff, offensive guard, Utah: The Shelton High graduate was named a third-team All-American this season by the Associated Press, and plays with a nasty disposition. Schlauderaff needs to show he’s a good enough athlete to play at the next level.
Nate Williams, strong safety, Washington: The Kennedy High graduate could be an in-the-box safety at the next level, but has to show that he has enough speed to cover the talented receivers at the next level, and also be a special teams contributor.
Zack Williams, offensive lineman, Washington State: Earned the Mike Utley Award as the Cougars’ top offensive lineman, and earned All-Pac-10 honorable mention.