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Posted Sept. 15, 2010
Luck vs. Locker - What Could (And Probably Will) Happen
Let's be honest here for a second. Your most die-hard football fans are generally your most knowledgeable, and specific to the NFL Draft we call them, obviously, Draftniks. However, if you aren't a casual fan, you will generally adopt the most consensus opinion and base those opinions on what the media is shoving down your skull.
I am getting at what will happen this season in the Jake Locker versus Andrew Luck war to be the first quarterback selected in the 2011 NFL Draft - assumming Luck declares. This could all be moot when it's said and done, but I want to be the first to clear the air and tell you what will happen before it happens.
I've watched game tapes of Jake Locker versus BYU and Syracuse, and Stanford Luck against UCLA.
Without a doubt in my mind, Locker is the better prospect. While Luck is slightly more polished, this is really nitpicking. Locker far and away has a better arm in my opinion, and athleticism is no contest here. Locker is also a more accurate quarterback from what I've seen, and he doesn't float the deep ball like Luck.
Luck will be a top 10 pick whenever he chooses to declare, and if I had a top 10 pick, I think Luck would be worthy of the choice. I'm not saying he is a low first-rounder or second-round talent.
The point I am getting at is Luck is on a better team, and I don't think it's very close. His receivers are far more consistent, he has a better offensive line, and his defense is superior to Washington's. Stanford will probably win more games than Washington.
Washington hasn't gotten much better than they were last season from what I've seen on tape. Locker is a better decision-maker and his timing is improved - he is as good as I think he almost possibly can be. The Huskies will likely repeat with a record around five to seven wins.
While Stanford has lost Toby Gerhart, Luck has taken a more prominent role in the passing game and this year's team is better offensively than in 2009. Luck will become more of a leader and the team will rally behind him. I think Stanford ends up with no fewer than 8 wins in the Pac-10, and maybe even 10 wins if they get hot.
My crystal ball tells me we will have a WAR when it comes to determining who the best quarterback prospect is if all of my win projections come to fruition (Stanford winning two or more games than Washington).
Luck will get credited as more of a "winner" than Jake Locker because he won more games. The Locker supporters will come back with "Well, if he played for Stanford", but we already saw this with the Matthew Stafford vs. Mark Sanchez debate.
Luck will get more television and media coverage if he is on the team winning more games. If Stanford makes it to the Rose Bowl, then the Luck hype machine will begin. The casual fan and even the die-hards will see more of Luck, and because they see more of him they will likely develop a positive opinion of him.
This worked against Stafford and for Sanchez. The East Coast saw nearly every one of Stafford's interceptions, but never watched Sanchez struggle through the middle of his junior season. All the typical fan and ESPN analyst recalls was his Rose Bowl game where he obliterated Penn State. This left a fresh taste on the tip of everyone's tongue.
Locker will get lost in the shadow a little bit. People might start to ridiculously question why his teams didn't win more games, the same way people questioned Jay Cutler at Vanderbilt. Locker will get picked apart, and Luck will get more favorably perceived (similar to Sam Bradford vs. Jimmy Clausen or Sanchez vs. Stafford where Bradford and Sanchez were praised; Clausen and Stafford scolded).
The most interesting thing I see out of all this is Luck and Locker are extremely similar quarterbacks. Both are pro-style, pass-first quarterbacks who keep their eyes downfield, yet they can make plays with their legs. They both run West Coast offenses. They are both elite decision-makers. There really isn't a ton that separates the two quarterbacks in terms of playing style. This isn't the strong-armed gunslinger versus the athletic, more conservative West Coast quarterback in Stafford vs. Sanchez.
Locker will probably go No. 1 because he simply has more physical talent and it isn't even close, but if Luck can get some national exposure and win a lot of games, it wouldn't shock me in the end if he is more favorably perceived and gets drafted ahead of Locker.
The argument between the two quarterbacks will likely be split 50-50 or 60-40 (either way) when it's all said and done amongst Draftniks, fans and pundits. Everyone wants to have an opinion, and I feel there will be a lot of support for each quarterback - as their should be since they are both top 10 caliber prospects.
I just don't see it as closely as everyone else does. Locker has more upside, but he's also a very safe quarterback prospect because he has great intangibles and is an elite decision-maker (only flaw is durability).
In the end, it's going to come down to one front office, and we have seen crazier things happen in the NFL Draft. Will this be a pre-draft signing? Will this be as close as Peyton vs. Leaf or Eli vs. Roethlisberger?