If you read my previous post you know that I can't grade this class until they at least have the opportunity to play a down in the NFL. That being said, let's walk through the 2011 Titans draft class.
1st Round - Pick #8
QB Jake Locker - Washington
Locker seems to have all the physical tools you would need in an NFL QB. He's 6' 3" 231 lbs., and has excellent toughness. His ability to create offense with his legs, as well as his arm, will give him an earlier opportunity to make a significant impact.
This was a real surprise selection for the Titans. Almost all of the pundents had DT Nick Fairley from Auburn or DE Robert Quinn from North Carolina being picked at that spot, and if they had a QB it was almost always Blaine Gabbert (if he was available). Well, Gabbert was not only available, so were Fairly and Quinn. The thing that put Locker over the top is not only his desire to work hard, but his execution of that desire. He's a smart kid, and has his head on straight. He is a true "Boy Scout" and that is what the Titans needed. He does what is expected and has a desire to learn. I'm not saying he is a saint, but I think this kid is just what the draft doctor ordered.
Hard worker/Character - already shows the work ethic to succeed at the top level. His character is what gives him the edge over previous "head cases."
Running ability - rushed 454 times for 1,939 yards and 29 TDs at Washington. He might just have the crowd chanting "VY? Who's that?" He is fast (4.3 speed), strong (rarely seen arm strength), and durable; just what you need in a running QB.
Can throw on the run - His accuracy is actually higher when he is on the move than in the pocket. That could fit right in to an offense where the offensive line struggled last year.
Interceptions - Threw 35 interceptions in college, not a huge number (he started all 4 years), but it was the interceptions he threw that has me a little worried. Some say this is a "mechanics" problem, or a "decision making" problem. Let's just hope he is as coach-able as it seems he is.
Accuracy - Scouts saw this as a red flag (53.9% completions), but the Titans obviously saw beyond this hurdle. He tends to force the ball, and has a tendency to lock on to his primary target without going through his progression.
Could he have already peaked? - He had a stellar Junior year at Washington, only to follow it up with a mediocre Senior year.
This kid has huge upside with only slight risk. I find it intriguing that the Titans suffered through the Pacman fiasco (million dollar talent and 2 cent brain), and didn't seem to learn their lesson because we took yet another head case in VY. Maybe now the Titans have learned that talent, although very important, can't supersede character. This guy has the tools and the mentality to get the job done. It's going to be exciting to see him implement the coaches philosophy. Also, the issues around his "mechanics" is not the same thing that was said about VY. Yes, it was the same words, but it is definitely a tweak that can be made without completely tearing him apart (unlike VY).