Jake Locker still can't seem to break into the first round of Rob Rang's 2011 NFL mock draft at CBS Sports. Rang dropped Locker out of the first round over a month ago, and has yet to give him a first round grade, despite Locker showing improvement at the NFL Combine last week. On the other hand, Ryan Mallett, who had also fallen from the first round, is back, and rising higher in Rang's mock draft.
It's clear Locker and Mallett are jockeying for position in the draft, with no clear favorite among the top-four quarterbacks. Cam Newton and Blaine Gabbert have both been mentioned as the top quarterback in the draft, with Locker and Mallett the third and fourth off the board. But according to Rang, Mallett could be destined for Minnesota, coming off the board at No. 12.
The Vikings are one of a handful of teams in the first round I believe will be very tempted by Mallett's upside. They've shown a willingness to gamble on character concerns before, have strong leaders in the locker room and have the talent at the skill positions and along the offensive line to protect a young quarterback.
Rang has three quarterbacks in his top-12, with Newton the No. 1 overall pick, followed by Gabbert at No. 10 and Mallett and No. 12.
On the other hand, Locker is nowhere in sight, instead falling to the second round. Rang pegged Jimmy Smith, a cornerback out of Colorado, as the Seattle Seahawks pick at No. 25, despite acknowledging the Seahawks do have a glaring need at quarterback.
Keep an eye on how Locker does at Washington's Pro Day later this month. With one more chance to impress, this time in a scripted workout, Locker's draft stock will become more clear once his workouts are in the rear-view mirror ahead of the draft. Until then, analysts will continue to struggle with how he projects as he continues to be one of the toughest prospects to nail down.
For the latest on the draft, check out the rest of our 2011 NFL mock draft StoryStream.