While Jake Locker's draft stock has been tough to nail down, with analysts disagreeing about where he slots ahead of the 2011 NFL Draft, it was hard to find scouts and players not heaping praise on Locker after his NFL Combine performance on Sunday. Locker ran well, turning in a fast 40 time and impressing in the agility drills, and threw well, showing improved footwork and accuracy, in the morning session at Lucas Oil Stadium. Add it all up and Locker came away from the combine in better shape than he arrived, answering some of the questions that have plagued him.
Yahoo!'s Doug Farrar picked a few winners and losers from Sunday's session, tabbing Locker as one of his biggest winners from the day's events. It was a step in the right direction, Farrar says, and if he keeps it up, Locker could find himself easily in the first round.
Locker hit deep seam routes with timing and touch, threw slants with good anticipation despite some unfortunate drops, and only really showed any yips on the deeper routes in which he had to throw against his body. Clearly, the work Locker's doing with former New York Jets quarterback Ken O'Brian is paying off. If Locker throws like this in his Pro Day on March 30, he may confirm a first-round grade.
Locker is heading back to California to continue his work with O'Brian ahead of Washington's Pro Day at the end of March. Watching him work during the throwing drills, it was clear his footwork and base were markedly improved from the last time we saw him, at the Senior Bowl in Alabama. While he wasn't perfect, the improvement was enough to draw rave reviews as Locker builds momentum ahead of the draft.