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ESPN still pushing Jake Locker as 2010 first overall pick

Jake Locker AP

ESPN’s E:60 program featured a profile this week of Jake Locker, the former Washington quarterback who eschewed last year’s NFL draft to return to play his senior season. It was a fine look at Locker’s off-field life, and it portrayed Locker as a good young man, which I have no doubt that he is. But it was also a classic example of a news outlet creating a false storyline to boost the narrative it wanted to push.

That narrative was explained at the outset, as E:60 correspondent Lisa Salters and executive producer Andy Tennant both said Locker would have been the first overall pick in the 2010 NFL draft — even though that claim is almost certainly false.

“Last year he was projected to be the No. 1 pick, but in one of those rare moves, he decided to go back for his senior season,” Salters said. “That worked out OK for Sam Bradford, because he ended up being the No. 1 pick.”

Tennant added, “Bradford got $50 million guaranteed last year. This guy left $50 million on the table, and there’s no way possible that he doesn’t regret this decision.”

The reality is that it’s impossible for anyone to know what would have happened if Locker had entered last year’s draft, and it’s ridiculous for ESPN to assert that Locker left $50 million on the table. As NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock pointed out in discussing Locker this week, teams don’t start doing full work-ups on juniors unless those players have declared for the draft, so it’s wrong to suggest that any team had put Locker at the top of its draft board — or put him on its draft board at all.

But to the extent that we can determine where Locker would have gone in the 2010 NFL draft, it’s extremely unlikely that any NFL team would have graded Locker higher than Bradford. As I wrote late in 2009, when Locker announced he would return to Washington in 2010, Locker was nowhere near as good a college quarterback as Bradford. To say that Bradford benefited from Locker’s decision is unfair to Bradford, who was drafted first overall because the Rams rightly saw him as a future star, not because he was the Rams’ second choice behind Locker.

In fact, not only would Locker not have been a likely No. 1 overall pick in 2010, he might not have even been a first-round pick. As we reported at the end of the 2009 season, the NFL’s draft advisory board didn’t even give Locker a first-round grade when he inquired about where he might have gone in the 2010 draft.

ESPN apparently thought it was making its E:60 profile more dramatic by portraying Locker as a man who gave up a surefire $50 million, but the reality is just the opposite: ESPN weakened its own story by portraying Locker as something he’s not.

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34 Responses to “ESPN still pushing Jake Locker as 2010 first overall pick”
  1. farmmbig says: Apr 27, 2011 11:20 AM

    Media people over-blowing a report? Not like it’s never been done before.

  2. snowpea84 says: Apr 27, 2011 11:21 AM

    Jake Locker is going to be a very good NFL Qb. You should probably jump on the bandwagon now. You’ll look more credible than if…than when you do it later.

  3. butch815 says: Apr 27, 2011 11:22 AM

    I don’t think there has been a QB to go #1 overall completing less than 55% of his passes. That would be a bigger reach than the E:60 story.

  4. Matt Lechner says: Apr 27, 2011 11:22 AM

    I agree, bad wording on ESPN’s part. But I disagree that Locker wouldn’t have been a high draft pick (he will this year — http://bit.ly/NFLMockDraft8 ) — The more NFL teams get to know him and breakdown his game, they’ve recognized that he’s a coachable kid with great talent.

  5. Mark Olwick says: Apr 27, 2011 11:24 AM

    “As NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock pointed out in discussing Locker this week, teams don’t start doing full work-ups on juniors unless those players have declared for the draft”

    You apparently didn’t watch Bill Parcells last night. He said that teams are already scouting and reporting on players for the 2012 draft, so I doubt Mayock’s statement is entirely accurate.

  6. chapnastier says: Apr 27, 2011 11:24 AM

    ESPN is a joke MDS. Thanks for proving it more though!

  7. betterandbetterthan says: Apr 27, 2011 11:31 AM

    Somebody call the waaahmbulence. This is hardly something that is ESPN specific as PFT is guilty of this regularly, but more importantly, the error isn’t in claiming he was the top pick – many had him graded as such at the time – but in making it seem as if it were a sure thing.

  8. bfridley says: Apr 27, 2011 11:33 AM

    ESPN is the biggest perpetrator of building story lines and narratives just for the sake of supplying something to report… and what kills me about it is that they will openly discuss a topic as a plot line to follow like it’s a movie

    Outside of ESPN, the single most ridiculous individual when it comes to this is Al Michaels, who will skim over “plot lines” and “story lines” like he’s reading out the chapters of a book

    The least they could do is be creative about it and just discuss it like it’s a conversation (and one about sports), and not just spout it out and showcase it as a narrative

  9. nothimagain says: Apr 27, 2011 11:42 AM

    Ahh, another polarizing media piece about a guy who is already the most polarizing player in the draft.
    This is just what was needed. Thanks.

  10. giantsfan82 says: Apr 27, 2011 11:44 AM

    Maybe the guy wanted to finish his education and the “guaranteed money” really wasn’t in the equation for him. Maybe he actually enjoys playing football and it’s not ALL about the money and more about getting his degree. He’s still going to make enough to feed his family for a lifetime even if he falls to round 3 and beyond.

  11. vcstriker16 says: Apr 27, 2011 11:46 AM

    Hold on…Sam Bradford was coming off a 2009 season in which he played in only TWO games and was recovering from major shoulder injuries.

    Jake Locker had a very good season playing in a pro-style offense. I’m not saying he’s better than Bradford, but I don’t think it’s stretch to suggest Locker would have gone number one overall. And I don’t think ESPN is only one who threw that out there.

  12. footballfansteve says: Apr 27, 2011 11:48 AM

    Yeah no one projects where QBs would have landed if they were Juniors and didn’t declare for the NFL Draft… Just like no one thinks Andrew Luck would have been the #1 overall pick this year… Wait…

  13. commoncents says: Apr 27, 2011 11:53 AM

    “…a false storyline to boost the narrative it wanted to push.”

    Isn’t this what PFT does with almost every article??

  14. hobartbaker says: Apr 27, 2011 11:55 AM

    Cue hills of West Virginia functionall defective banjo player, Andrew Luck. ESPN can start writing the same story for next year.

  15. seeschool says: Apr 27, 2011 12:04 PM

    “As NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock pointed out in discussing Locker this week, teams don’t start doing full work-ups on juniors unless those players have declared for the draft”

    You apparently didn’t watch Bill Parcells last night. He said that teams are already scouting and reporting on players for the 2012 draft, so I doubt Mayock’s statement is entirely accurate.

    Actually Mayock’s statement is entirely accurate. Scouting a player is one thing, NFL teams would be scouting sophmores. But doing a full workup on a player is something entirely different. They won’t do all their due diligence until the player has declared, and why would they? Anything else could be a waste of time and money.

  16. berniemadoffsides says: Apr 27, 2011 12:09 PM

    @ butch815:

    “I don’t think there has been a QB to go #1 overall completing less than 55% of his passes. That would be a bigger reach than the E:60 story.”

    —————

    I couldn’t agree more. I’ve said this for years – Locker absolutely will NOT be a success in the NFL. 60% should be the rock bottom completion % for any NFL QB prospect, and he’s at 53.1% (+/- .1%, I believe). That is terrible. Sure, the kid’s athletic and can run – but compare his % to two other young, mobile QB’s: Tim Tebow or especially Cam Newton. He’s not even a 2nd round pick, although he will likely be gone by #50.

    Not to mention the littany of injuries he’s sustained in college. No one has “BUST” written on him more than Locker. Cam Newton has the potential to be something special, Gabbert/Mallett could do well in the right system. I think Ponder/Dalton are 2nd round picks, as well, but I’d grade them higher than Locker.

  17. thereisalwaysnextyear says: Apr 27, 2011 12:10 PM

    At least it’s original comment and not, you know, just commenting on what other people come up with. That seems to be mostly what PFT does now. Very little original content/thought and a whole lot of criticizing what others generate.

  18. thereisalwaysnextyear says: Apr 27, 2011 12:16 PM

    Sorry, make that original content, not comment.

    thereisalwaysnextyear says:
    Apr 27, 2011 12:10 PM
    At least it’s original comment and not, you know, just commenting on what other people come up with. That seems to be mostly what PFT does now. Very little original content/thought and a whole lot of criticizing what others generate.

  19. ramsfanjoe says: Apr 27, 2011 12:20 PM

    There is no way Locker would have been picked over Sam Bradford. Billy Devaney already had the Ryan Leaf experience when he was in San Diego. He knew better then to blow this pick.

  20. galvestontexans says: Apr 27, 2011 12:30 PM

    Maybe Sam should send Jake a thank you card lol.
    I bet Sam has a better career that Locker does. I also dont think there is a QB in this years draft that is as good a Bradford.

  21. moneymike23 says: Apr 27, 2011 12:30 PM

    Good Post.

  22. clintonportisheadd says: Apr 27, 2011 12:38 PM

    ESPN is a joke.

    They are STILL reporting the Lakers are trading Bynum for Carmello Anthony….

    What is really funny is when they have 2 reporters reporting on the same story but have 180 degree different takes.

    For example Mort will report that the league is suspending player X for 4 games while Shefter is reporting player X will get no suspension. That way ESPN can always say “Hey–we had it right!”

  23. sterilizecromartie says: Apr 27, 2011 12:53 PM

    You are wrong MDS. Locker did have a chance to be #1 given Bradfords injury concerns. He had an awesome year in 2009 at Washington in a pro-style offense. Nearly every early mock I saw that year had Locker going #1, before he said he was going back to college.

    And to say that he may not have even gone in the first round really destroys your credibility. Seattle had two early first round picks last year. There is no way they would have passed on a hometown favorite like Locker twice.

    And what the heck is this….

    “As NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock pointed out in discussing Locker this week, teams don’t start doing full work-ups on juniors unless those players have declared for the draft, so it’s wrong to suggest that any team had put Locker at the top of its draft board — or put him on its draft board at all.”

    Wrong again. Look at Andrew Luck. Carolina put him at the top of their draft board right after the bowl game. It wasn’t until he said he was going back to school when they removed him. They didn’t need to work him out to know how they felt about him. The same can be said about Locker following 2009.

  24. thefiesty1 says: Apr 27, 2011 12:56 PM

    If anyone takes Locker in the first round-it’s a BIG reach. Some of these teams, however, don’t want to win, now or in the future and one of them probably will take him. Nobody in their right mind would pick him #1.

  25. dspyank2k11 says: Apr 27, 2011 1:11 PM

    Well if we would stop watching ESPN it would just go away.

    Instead, it has turned into the MTV of sports.

  26. gregjennings85 says: Apr 27, 2011 1:18 PM

    Locker is an enigma.

    Despite his lack of accuracy and eye-popping numbers, he played on a weak Washington team, and rarely had much time.

    I wouldn’t want to mortage my billion dollar team’s future on any of these 1st round QBs.

    I will say this, Ryan Mallet, years from now, will be the clear top QB in this draft.

  27. jimr10 says: Apr 27, 2011 1:33 PM

    I was actually wondering if anyone still watches ANYTHING on ESPN.

  28. granadafan says: Apr 27, 2011 1:34 PM

    “nothimagain says:
    Apr 27, 2011 11:42 AM
    Ahh, another polarizing media piece about a guy who is already the most polarizing player in the draft.
    This is just what was needed. Thanks.”
    ——————————————————————-

    What? This was not a story about Cam Newton!

  29. whatswiththehate says: Apr 27, 2011 1:41 PM

    I guess freedom of opinions aren’t welcome on this site…My post was deleted.

    Anywayy, PFT and ESPN are one and the same. I treat this site like a tabloid site for athletes. I take everything they say with a grain of salt.

    And as for ESPN…the fact that anyone takes the network or their afiliated networks seriously is sad.. If anyone remembers the beginning days of ESPN, they were TMZ with suits and that was before TMZ came into existance. You can’t venture too far from who you are originally no matter how serious you pretend to be. ESPN is TMZ for athletes.

  30. jebdamone says: Apr 27, 2011 2:03 PM

    jake locker is not a #1 overall pick in any draft because he is just not that big of a talent. no way the rams would have done there due diligence and selected locker over bradford. sammie is a future pro bowler, no doubt if you have seen him play at all. locker has many question marks and i really wonder if he will ever be starting material. he was top of the draft board, just like nick fairly was top of a lot of people in the weeks after the BCS championship game…where is he slotted to be taken in most drafts at this point? out of the top ten.

  31. rajbais says: Apr 27, 2011 2:49 PM

    Wow! For the first time, I’m starting to agree with MDS!!!

    This stupid network reported that Reggie Bush was going to be #1 overall during the 2006 NFL Draft.

    It also kept harping on the notion that Matt Leinart could have been the #1 overall pick in 2005 when Pat Kirwan of NFL.com and Adam Schefter (while working for NFL Network) reported that Leinart’s parents called teams in 2005 and they said he wasn’t #1 on their boards.

    Louisville Senior QB Brian Brohm could’ve been a top 10 pick as a junior, Tim Tebow in 2009 could’ve been #1, Jermaine Gresham could’ve been picked earlier as a junior … SHUT UP!!!!!!!!!

    These players make their decisions in January and to say that what you hear or feel in January will happen in late April doesn’t makes you psychic; it makes you a psycho … and a liar!!!

  32. swpstks says: Apr 27, 2011 3:06 PM

    Locker reminds me alot of Brian Brohm coming out of Louisville, Brohm decided to go back to school for his season didn’t put up great stats and fell to the 2nd round to the Packers got beat out by a 7th round pick in Matt Flynn bumped down to the practice squad and now rides the pine in Buffalo. Same path lies ahead for Mr. Locker

  33. baldeagle6 says: Apr 28, 2011 3:55 PM

    There is a often a big difference between what one person claims something is worth, and what a qualified buyer will actually pay for it.

    Kiper and McShay made a ridiculous claim after Locker and UW upset USC in Seattle in Sept 2009.

    The point is that none of the potential NFL buyers ever said they would pay the price of the #1 overall pick for Jake Locker. The NFL Collegiate Advisory Committee told Locker he was not a likely pick anywhere in the 1st round, and at least one former and well-connected GM has emphatically said that the claim Locker would be the overall #1 was nowhere near the truth.

    This is a criticism of guys like Kiper and McShay, not a criticism of Jake Locker.

    When recently asked if Kiper’s ratings are part of the process in NFL draft rooms, Bill Parcells simply and diplomatically said, “Could be in some.” Off-camera, John Buccigross was heard to say, “I’ll take that as a ‘no.’”

  34. layden18 says: Apr 28, 2011 5:38 PM

    The kid had is good he had no o-line at all at UW. And given the chance to to learn he will hes a great passer on the run and if he is drafted as high as they say he will b he will b doing a lot of that and als handing the ball of to chris johnson or adrian peterson. It might take a few years but he will turn into a good qb.

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