Friday, February 25, 2011
Gabbert, Locker see QB needs galore
By Tim Graham
INDIANAPOLIS -- Quarterbacks have started passing through the NFL combine media center here at Lucas Oil Stadium.
They're always a popular group with reporters, but the interest is even higher this year, with so many teams in need of improving the position.
The Buffalo Bills and Miami Dolphins are among the teams most closely scrutinizing quarterbacks at the combine.
"I believe it's a really good year to be a quarterback," Washington quarterback Jake Locker said. "You look at the draft and there's a good number of teams looking at quarterbacks in the draft or to pick up in some way. So I think it's a good year to be able to come out and showcase what you can do and what you can bring to an organization."
Missouri quarterback Blaine Gabbert said the number of teams in need of quarterback help was a major factor in weighing his decision to turn pro a year early.
"You're looking at the top 15 teams [in the draft], potentially 10 teams could use a quarterback," Gabbert said. "I know every quarterback in this draft looked at that, not only me. That's kind of why I decided to come out."
Buffalo could be a destination for Gabbert with the third overall draft choice. It's also easy to imagine Locker in a Bills or Dolphins uniform. The Dolphins pick 15th.
Locker looks like an X factor in the draft. Some scouts love what they see. Others are down on his accuracy issues.
NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock has Locker listed as the second-best quarterback in this year's class behind Gabbert.
ESPN draft institution Mel Kiper doesn't project Locker as a first-round pick. Scouts Inc. rates Locker 26th among all prospects on their big board. Gabbert is sixth. Auburn quarterback Cam Newton is 28th.
Locker has been working out with former New York Jets quarterback Ken O'Brien in Irvine, Calif.
Locker described his chief strengths and weaknesses in his own words.
"I think I bring good character into a locker room," Locker said. "I'm somebody the guys can trust and believe in. And I also believe I have the opportunity to kind of improvise, create with my legs and extend plays and give guys an opportunity to work downfield.
"One thing that's not secret with anybody: Moving in the pocket and throwing in the pocket is something that I'm working on and will continue to work on."
Newton hasn't come through the media center yet.