This past year in the NFL Draft five quarterbacks were taken in the first 35 picks. Of those five, all but Titans first rounder Jake Locker has been able to get on the field for extended time. Cam Newton has played like the best rookie quarterback to come into the league, Blaine Gabbert has taken over as the Jaguars signal caller, Christian Ponder did the same in Minnesota, and Andy Dalton has given fans in Cincinnati hope with the way he has led the Bengals to a 5-2 record.
That leaves Locker. No doubt it was a surprise that the Titans scooped up the former Washington Husky with the eighth pick in the draft. Despite being a top ten pick Locker has been watching from the sidelines and learning from Matt Hasselbeck. While every quarterback wants to play and I’m sure it must be tough for a competitor like Locker to see all of these other rookie QB’s getting so much playing time, this might be the best thing to happen for Locker. Coming out of Washington he didn’t look ready to play right away and there is a lot of value in learning from a true professional and veteran like Matt Hasselbeck for a few years before stepping onto an NFL field.
Jake Locker joined WGFX in Nashville with Three Hour Lunch to talk about why he decided to go back to Washington for his senior season, what he thinks of Andrew Luck, if he is following what other players in the draft are doing, and what it was like for him earlier this year to play in his first NFL game.
Why he decided to go back to Washington for his senior season:
“For me, when I decided to go to the University of Washington, they were a program I watched growing up and they had a lot of tradition. They were one of the top teams in the Pac 10 every year and some years in the country. That’s how I remembered them, that’s what I knew the Huskies as, and I knew when I committed to go there that they weren’t at that stage. We were kinda in a rough spot and I wanted to be a part of the process of bringing that back. We hadn’t done that since I had been there. We hadn’t won a bowl game, we hadn’t won more than five games in a year, and so I guess just personally I had kinda set that goal for myself and my teammates and I wanted to see it through. I had the opportunity to graduate and in my opinion I created some memories that I’ll be able to carry with me for the rest of my life and I’ll be proud of.”
What he thinks of Andrew Luck:
“Yeah Andrew, he’s a great guy. I had the opportunity last summer to spend some time with him and he’s a really good guy. He’s got as great head on his shoulders, smart, understands the game, and playing against him, they’ve got a great football team and I think he’d be the first person to tell you that. They’ve got a really good football team and he does a great job of executing their offense. He’s precise, he’s accurate, he’s got a really strong arm and can make all the throws you ask him to, and I think he’s a little more athletic than people give him credit for too. I think he’s a very talented player, a great person, and any organization would be lucky to have him.”
Whether or not he is keeping tabs on the other rookie QB’s and what they are doing:
“As a football fan you follow them just because I’ve always followed everybody my whole life. I’m paying attention to what they’re doing and like you said a lot of success they’ve been having which is great to see. Got an opportunity to know those guys on a personal level and it’s fun to see them have the success they are. As a competitor you always want to be on the field. I don’t think you play this game to stand on the sideline but you also got to take advantage of the opportunity you’re in. Looking at the opportunity I have here in Tennessee, it’s a great one and one I think I can learn and grow from a lot as a player early on in my career. Unfortunately for some of those guys they may not learn as much by playing as I’m gonna learn by watching Matt. He’s been in this league for 13 years or 14 years and he’s been successful for that many years and there’s a reason for it. Watching how he works every day, watching his thought process in meetings, watching his thought process on the field in between drives, all those things, you’re able to pick up on little details that allowed him to stay in this league this long and play at a high level in this league for a long time because everybody here is talented and everybody can make the same throws I can. It’s the little things that you can do to give yourself an advantage against other people. I’m just gonna take advantage of the opportunity I have here to learn from Matt and grow as much as I can in this first year.”
On how nervous he was getting into his first NFL game:
“I think there’s nerves involved. Any time you’re going to compete but for me it was a situation where we had a game in hand and you got to go in and get some snaps for the first time in that fashion which I think kept it a little loser, but it’s a dream come true. To walk out on an NFL football field and take a live snap was something that I dreamed about since I was a little kid. To have the opportunity to do it was awesome.”