Home > College Football, Div-I FBS, Draft, NFL > While Jake Locker Struggles, Ryan Mallett is Making Things Happen

While Jake Locker Struggles, Ryan Mallett is Making Things Happen

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If I were to characterize this draft class in terms of it’s quarterbacks, we’d have to think about guys with big arms, great frames, and limited accuracy.  Of course, it’s that last skill that will make or break a prospect at the next level, and a lot of guys that were projected to go high in this next draft simply do not have it.

For Jake Locker, perhaps the most touted NFL prospect in the class, the first three weeks of the season have been a disaster of sorts.  A win against Syracuse and a loss against BYU produced acceptable — but not NFL-type — results.  Locker was up around 60% in completion percentage, he had thrown for close to eight yards per attempt in those games.  Locker just needed a game against a strong college defense to show he could match up with the big guys.  He got that opportunity against Nebraska, a program with an elite defense.  Locker completed just 4 of 20 passes, threw two INTs, and didn’t even throw for four yards per attempt (which is actually pretty good considering those accuracy problems).

Jake Lockers line through three games this year is: completed 46 of 90 passes for 7.0 yards per attempt, 6 TDs, and 2 INTs.  His target completion percentage to be a legitimate first round pick is 70%.  If he throws 300 more passes this year, he would need to complete an obscene 227 of them to meet that mark.  Washington, more or less, won’t lose the rest of the year if Jake Locker is a legitimate first overall prospect.

Locker can’t really be blamed for any of this.  While he doesn’t appear to be much of an NFL prospect at quarterback, it’s not Jake Locker who has been going out of his way to remind you how lucky your franchise would be to have him.  That would be disinterested third parties who are trying to convince you of that.  Locker, to his credit, avoided being another Jevan Snead this year by actually going to pro executives and gauging his draft value before making the decision to come out.  On one hand, he’s probably going to hurt his draft stock going into this next draft.  But on the other hand, someone is going to take a flyer on him in some round next year, and if quarterback doesn’t work out, Locker is plenty athletic to go play another position…or baseball.

Where Locker has failed — changing his prospect make-up — is more along the lines of the status quo for a college quarterback.  There’s another potential pro prospect who is, right now, making a big deal out of himself by developing into a legitimate first-overall type quarterback right before our eyes: Arkansas’ Ryan Mallett.

What’s most impressive about Mallett’s numbers is that they aren’t unreasonably inflated by playing FCS competition.  Arkansas opened against Tennessee Tech, but Mallett threw for more yards against both Louisiana-Monroe, and Georgia, than in that first game.  He’s thrown for exactly three touchdowns in each game, with just two interceptions between the three games — and none against Georgia.  More importantly, his game-winning drive to beat Georgia included a bunch of NFL type throws, with the clock as a significant factor on the road.  While Locker was expected to have his breakout game against a strong defense, it was unquestionably Mallett who has separated himself as the early favorite to be taken first overall.

Ryan Mallett’s line through three games this year: completed 70 of 100 passes, for 10.8 yards per attempt, and 9 TDs to 2 INTs.  He’s right at the mark I set for him to establish himself as a legitimate first overall QB candidate in the next draft.  Mallett has done it against good competition as well, actually finding ways to raise his play when it matters most.

Neither of these guys is likely to be the first overall pick in next year’s draft if Andrew Luck of Stanford comes out (I don’t think he will).  Luck may be a once in a lifetime type prospect someday.  But for Mallett and Locker, the day where they have to take their resume to the NFL and try to sell themselves as leaders of an organization is drawing nearer.  Clearly at the moment, they are moving in opposite directions.

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