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High Hopes For Jake Locker

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This, from UW Dawg Pound, caught my eye:

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Sark thinks Jake will complete 65-68 % of his passes this fall. Expects his TD to interception ratio to be 3-1.

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If he could, Locker would secure himself as among the greatest quarterback prospects to ever come out of college football. And I intend no exaggeration. Locker has always had Snap-On tools, but that, and a bevy of highlights, has always been story: Good promise; little success.

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Locker only completed 58.2% of his passes last season, and that was a major step up. He completed 53.8% in his injury shortened 2008 and a rotten 47.3% as a freshman. I understand that he has often been the only pro talent on some terrible Husky teams, and I understand that means he has often carried the team on his back, but there is a meaningful cutoff for completion percentage. If you’re completing fewer than 50% of your passes, you are not a pro talent. And to be a solid prospect, it’s much better to be above 60% than it is to be anywhere near 50%.

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Jake’s a senior this year. Has Sark’s projected improvement ever been done by a similar quarterback? His peers would presumably be other first-round quarterbacks. Let’s look.

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Matthew Stafford didn’t top 60% until his final year at Georgia. He struggled as a rookie. Same basic story with Josh Freeman, but Freeman topped 60% in 2007 and then regressed in 2008.

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Matt Ryan twice topped 60%, but fell below as a senior. In 654 attempts, mind you. Joe Flacco never had any problem, but he was playing inferior competition.

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JaMarcus Russell pulled the trick in the extremely simplified LSU offense. Brady Quinn was comfortably above 60% for his final two seasons.

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Vince Young was sort of in the Russell boat. High completion percentage for a season, but simplified offense. Matt Leinart was always well above average at completing passes.

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I’ll skip down a bit. There is nothing magical about completing 60% of your passes. It doesn’t ensure success or guarantee failure, but completing a pass is the most basic job of a quarterback. If a quarterback struggles to complete a high percentage at a lower level of competition, it’s hard to project them to improve upon that as a pro. And it’s difficult to be a valuable professional if you’re not completing a least 60% of attempted passes. Locker might be great, but unless he has a season better than last year, if not as good as Steve Sarkisian hopes then somewhere in between, he might be dangerously close to a Kyle Boller- or J.P. Losman-type prospect. Teams are seduced by the talent, but can Locker play?