CBS Sports draft analyst Rob Rang, who lives about an hour south of Seattle, knows his Jake Locker.
Rang first became intrigued by the former Washington quarterback when he saw Locker — then “a man among boys” — lead Ferndale (Wash.) High to a state title in 2005. He then saw “virtually every game” Locker played for the Huskies, saw him at the Senior Bowl, the NFL Combine and, finally, at Washington’s pro day Wednesday.
In Rang’s estimation, the “light’s coming on” for Locker, whose athleticism, size and arm strength could be wasted in the NFL if he can’t correct a teensy little problem he had at UW: Throwing the ball, accurately, to his targets.
Locker completed 38 of 40 passes at his pro day and Rang says he’s seen him look better on just one occasion. That would be Locker’s performance in the final game of his junior season when he completed 19 of 23 passes for 248 yards and three touchdowns in a 42-10 romp over Cal (he also rushed for 77 yards and two TDs on 14 carries).
“You can see that the light’s coming on and, to me, that’s what’s exciting about him,” Rang said Wednesday night. “Everyone could see his natural talent. It was just whether or not you could ever really harness that talent.
“And it appears that through the coaching he’s had with (former NFL quarterback) Ken O’Brien that they are harnessing it and he is improving. Markedly improving. I think when it’s all said and done, quarterbacks with his talent, and his intangibles, don’t get out of the first round. It just doesn’t happen.”
If Locker is available near the end of the first round, is he a quarterback the 49ers would trade up to acquire? Based solely on circumstantial evidence, it doesn’t appear so.
In this article on Locker’s pro day, ESPN’s Mike Sando wrote that he didn’t notice any Niners’ representatives in attendance. Perhaps that’s because Jim Harbaugh, who was front and center at the pro days of TCU’s Andy Dalton and Missouri’s Blaine Gabbert, has seen enough. In four games against Stanford when Harbaugh was the coach, Locker completed 51 percent of his passes with one touchdown and five interceptions.
In Sando’s article, he quotes Matt Williamson of Scouts Inc., who doesn’t see Locker being a good fit for a timing-based West Coast offense.
“Locker is pretty accurate outside the pocket,” Williamson said, “but as far as going 1-2-3 and getting it out, having good footwork, hitting a guy in stride, he is terrible. I don’t see that fit at all. I do not think he is going to be the precise passer Harbaugh is looking for, either.”
• Sports Illustrated’s Jim Trotter wrote, via Twitter, that dollars – not draft picks – could make some teams hesitant about pulling the trigger on a trade for Eagles quarterback Kevin Kolb.
Kolb is due $1.392 million in 2011, but his new contract won’t come at a Wal-Mart price.
As Pro Football Talk notes, a starting point for a Kolb contract would likely be the six-year, $48 million deal Matt Schaub received from the Texans in 2007. Schaub, like Kolb, was a promising and unproven young quarterback who was a backup to Michael Vick before he was traded from Atlanta.
• Bengals owner Mike Brown has said Carson Palmer will not be on the market, but the disgruntled quarterback’s house officially is.
Palmer’s 5½-bedroom home, complete with solarium, spa and putting green, is available for $2.1 million. The listing is the latest sign that Palmer, 31, is prepared to take his $80 million dollars and retire if Cincinnati doesn’t deal him.