Zac Boyer will be entering his third season covering the Washington Redskins for The Free Lance-Star this fall. Make sure to follow Zac on Twitter (@ZacBoyer) for the latest updates or e-mail him with any questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Former exec Lombardi: Jake Locker fits Redskins’ offense
Jake Locker’s proven ability to effectively throw outside the pocket is why NFL Network analyst Mike Lombardi believes Locker would fit Redskins coach Mike Shanahan’s offense better than any of the other second-tier passers in this year’s draft class.
Lombardi’s eight-year tenure in the Oakland Raiders’ front office (1999-2007) occurred while Shanahan was head coach of AFC West rival Denver, so he’s quite familiar with Shanahan’s offense and the type of quarterback needed to make it work.
“When you look at what Locker’s best skill set is, it’s to be on the perimeter, it’s to be moving in the pocket,” Lombardi said on a teleconference this afternoon. “He’s not an accurate quarterback and he’s not a dropback passer.
“Mike’s passing game is about being on the edges and challenging, whether it’s bootlegs, nakeds and things like that. He’s looking for athleticism at quarterback. So when I look at Locker, I see a guy who would fit what Mike does.”
Lombardi is not alone. Shanahan, himself, praised Locker at the NFL Scouting Combine in February and indirectly indicated that he could be a good fit.
“I would make more similarities to Jake Plummer for me, relative to his ability to run,” Shanahan said of the University of Washington prospect. “He’s got great speed and an ability to do some things outside the pocket that most quarterbacks can’t do.”
That’s an auspicious comparison. Plummer was 39-15 in four seasons with Denver (2003-06). He helped the Broncos make the playoffs in his first three seasons there, and they won the division in 2005.
Plummer completed a combined 60.1 percent of his passes during the three seasons he helped Denver to the playoffs. I bring that up because, as Lombardi mentioned, Locker’s inaccuracy is the biggest knock on him. He never completed more than 58.2 percent of his passes in a season at UW, and his completion percentage was only 55.4 last year.
Locker acknowledged this shortcoming when asked at the combine about his strengths and weaknesses.
“I think that [I am] able to bring good character into a locker room and am somebody that guys can trust and believe in,” he said in February. “And then I also believe that I also have the opportunity to kind of improvise, create with my legs and extend plays, give guys the opportunity to work downfield. One thing–it’s no secret, I don’t think to anybody–moving in the pocket and throwing in the pocket is something that I’m working on and will continue to work on.”
So my question to you, then, is how would you feel about the Redskins drafting Locker? I was a bit surprised to see this CBS Sports mock draft projecting the Redskins to take Locker 10th overall. But if Shanahan is convinced that Locker is his guy, and the Redskins can’t trade down to draft him later in the first round, would you have a problem with taking him 10th?
…and if you have a couple minutes, check out this video clip of Locker taking part in Jon Gruden’s ESPN QB Camp. Very cool stuff.