Jake Locker Doesn’t Care One Bit If His 2011 NFL Draft Stock Has Fallen as He Reflects Back On His Up and Down Career at Washington

Jake Locker Doesn’t Care One Bit If his 2011 NFL Draft Stock Has Fallen as He Reflects Back On His Up and Down Career at Washington

It may not have been the perfect senior season for Washington Huskies quarterback Jake Locker, but it’s hard to feel anything but respect and admiration for the career he had in Seattle. There were injuries, a winless season, a coaching change, to name but a few of the obstacles Locker had to overcome during his noteworthy career as a Husky. But to his credit, Locker stuck with his teammates and friends, and ultimately finished off his career with a late-season surge that made UW bowl eligible, and an impressive Bowl game win over Nebraska in this year’s Holiday Bowl. Had Locker declared for the NFL Draft after his junior year, many thought he would have gone as high as No. 1 overall, and no later than the top-10. But Locker had made up his mind to finish off his collegiate career, enjoy every last minute of the experience, and continue working with new head coach Steve Sarkisian on improving his fundamentals and mechanics during his senior season.

Well, Locker and the Huskies got off to a slow start to their ’10 season, and there’s no denying that he may have hurt his draft stock in the process. But as you’ll hear, that doesn’t matter to him. He wouldn’t trade in this past year for anything in the world, and he sounds genuine when saying so.Locker joined 950 KJR in Seattle to talk about what he’s been up to since Washington’s Holiday Bowl win over Nebraska, how he hasn’t and will continue to not pay any attention to mock drafts, if his agent has told him which NFL teams might be most interested in drafting him, what aspects of his game he feels need the most work if he’s going to be successful at the next level, how he thinks his athletic running ability will translate to the next level, how he doesn’t care one bit that some draftniks feel his draft stock has fallen this past calendar year, and how he has no plans on pursuing a professional baseball career and instead has every intention of sticking with his goals of being an NFL quarterback.

On what he’s been up to since Washington’s Holiday Bowl win over Nebraska:

“Well I had a couple days that I stayed on in San Diego, hung out with my family and friends, celebrated the win, celebrated New Year’s. So it was a good time, really enjoyed it. And then the Monday after the 1st, I got back to town and flew out to Irvine on Monday and started my training down there at the training facilities down there with my agent. So yeah, I started right to work and kind of continued right through to this week. Now, this week I got back to Seattle to spend some time with Coach Sark and Coach Nuss[meier], do some work with them. So I fly out again Sunday back down to Irvine.”

On the process of signing an agent and building a team around him as he prepares for this spring’s NFL Draft:

“So I signed with David Dunn; they’re based out of Irvine, they work with Velocity Sports down there, so that’s who I’m working with down there. So I’ve been spending some time with Ken O’Brien, the quarterback coach I’ve been working with some there. Great guy, knows a lot about the position, and has really been a pleasure to work with. They did a similar kind of thing with [Mark] Sanchez when he came out where Mark spent some time kind of back and forth, spent some time with Coach Sark, to kind of help with the process as well. So I think that’s kind of the same approach that we’re going to take. So I’ll be back and forth a little bit, but yeah, just a lot of football.”

On if he follows mock drafts and where he thinks he might go next year in the NFL:

“Never. I don’t know, it’s just like everything else, it’s no different in my opinion than a newspaper article or your guys’ talk show no offense, but I feel I don’t have anything to gain from it. So I appreciate what they do for our program and for us individually, but I don’t think that by reading it or listening to it, I’m going to make myself a better football player. And it’s the same way I feel about those mock drafts — those people are good at what they do, they’re good at their job, they really are. But it’s not going to benefit me in any way I really believe, by following that and checking out the mock drafts that they create.”

Whether he knows which teams have the most interest in potentially drafting him at this point:

“Well like I said, it’s kind of just a grab bag at this point — people that might have watched the Nebraska film whether it was for me, or Mason or the couple corners for Nebraska, or whoever, just kind of in passing. Quite a bit of teams have talked to Dave, but like I said, it’s really early still so it’s kind of hard to tell where the real interest is coming from.”

On what parts of his game he thinks need the most work in order to be successful at the next level:

“I think just the fundamentals of playing the position, something that I’ve really been able to grow in the last couple of years , and it’s just something that I feel I need to continue to grow in. The footwork, the eyes through your progressions, understanding where your check-downs are and taking advantage of it. You know, things like that that are what make the great quarterbacks really, really good — just continuing to focus on that, work on that, and get better at that. The more comfortable you are with it, I think, the better you are. So I think through repetition is the best way to get all that stuff done.”

On falling short of the 60 percent completion percentage goal Coach Sark set as a senior season goal for him, and what he thinks he needs to do to improve his accuracy and completion percentage at the next level:

“Well I think when you look at it, it was really still only my second year in a pro style offense, so like I touched on earlier, I’ll continue to grow within that style of offense and get better and more comfortable with it. And with that I think will come more confidence and more completions. So I think my best is ahead of me as far as production within this type of offense. But at the same time, even though the numbers and completion percentage may have been down, I feel I grew a lot as a football player and quarterback this last year. And I think I definitely improved over what I did the year before. I felt a lot more comfortable, I felt a lot more confident, I probably threw the ball away a little more than I did the year before and didn’t force passes that I would have the year before. So like you said, the numbers weren’t obviously where you’d want them to be, but numbers aside, I thought for me personally as a quarterback in my growth, I thought it was a great year for me.”

On how he thinks his impressive running skills will translate to the NFL game:

“I think watching the NFL now, it’s something a lot of teams have quarterbacks that have that ability. And it’s just something that teams…not necessarily through designed runs, more so at that level when nothing is down field and you feel you have a seam, and the defenders are carried with underneath routes, and you have ten yards of open grass that you can take advantage of, and guys are doing it. You know, you watch Aaron Rodgers, you watch Jay Cutler, you watch Michael Vick, guys like that who are mobile players, create just one more thing that defenses have to account for. And I think whether you’re using a spy, or you’re using a book end and containing guys, it gives you an advantage on offense because they have to at least commit one more guy to you. So I think maybe not so much the running but the threat of it is something that watching the NFL evolve, is something that’s been incorporated by a lot of teams by I guess the quarterbacks they choose to play. So hopefully I’ll be able to take advantage of it the same way those guys have and use it to your advantage to improve the outcome for your team.”

Whether he’s paid much attention to those draftniks that have stated that his draft stock has fallen this past year:

“No, not at all, because they didn’t get to experience the memories that I got to this year. They don’t get to carry with them what I do now and I don’t think you can put a price on any of that stuff. I came back for a couple of reasons, and I was able to accomplish them all. And there’s nothing more fulfilling to me than that and be on the field with the guys that I was privliged to be on the field with. I’ll never forget that team, and I’ll never forget that year. So yeah, there’s nothing that would have not made this year worth it.”

Whether he feels satisfied with his career helping turn around the Huskies program that had fallen on hard times:

“Yeah I’m proud of what myself and the guys I came in with and that football team was able to accomplish. It wasn’t always easy, it maybe didn’t happen as fast as we would have liked, but when you’re able to kind of sit back and look at the career that we had, we ended up third in the Pac-10, we were able to beat Nebraska in the Holiday Bowl who like you said, at one point in the season was ranked fifth I believe and came up here and killed us. So I think there were a lot of things to really be proud of as a football team. Like I said, the memories, and you look at all the games and the fashion we won a lot of them in, it was crazy, it was kind of a story book ending for a season, and like I said, one I’ll be able to carry with me for the rest of my life.”

Whether he has plans to pursue a professional baseball career (he’s under contract with the Angels), or if his focus is squarely on making it as an NFL quarterback:

“Nope, I’m focused on the Draft and getting ready for that. I’m a football player.”

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