We are now done with the pre-season. It’s over. With 4 games against scrubs under their belts, we can now get a fresh idea of whether the Titans made the right call in drafting Jake Locker.
Cam Newton got the first call and from then until the Titans pick, no other quarterback was taken. Many names were available, such as: the strong armed Ryan Mallet (Arkansas), the fast Colin Kaepernick (Nevada), the precise Andy Dalton (TCU) and the guy I call the “Measurable King”, Blaine Gabbert.
The Titans elected to go with a leader. They took a guy who, while needing refinement, had every physical trait you wanted in a ‘Franchise’ quarterback. They took a guy that could lift his teammates to a higher level. They took Jake Locker of Washington, the guy with pocket presence issues and accuracy issues that only pop up when he throws from the pocket. Locker has outstanding accuracy while throwing on the run.
Two picks later, the Jaguars took Gabbert. Rumor has it that the Jaguars rated Gabbert as the first overall talent. Fortune pitted these two QB’s against each other for the next few years and as fate would have it, it now seems that both will get a redshirt year as both teams have solid veterans in place atop the depth chart. Both Locker and Gabbert could use the ‘tune-up’ year to refine their talents.
I’ve seen most of the footage for what both QB’s have done this pre-season. 4 games in the books and I call it a ‘no contest’ victory for Locker. It’s easy to make the pick. You know what good QB play looks like. When you watch Locker, it works. When you watch Gabbert, you scratch your head wondering what’s going on. There’s going to be the argument that one of them had better WR’s or maybe the o-line just wasn’t up to par for one of these guys and that’s fair to say. However, the gap between Locker and Gabbert at this point just seems unreal.
Locker seems every bit as billed. He makes some ‘wow’ plays, yet he makes some dumb plays. The ‘wow’ plays happen far more often than the ‘uh-oh’ plays occur. He shows flashes that scream: Franchise QB!!! Sometimes these moments collide just as they did on his first touchdown pass, in which he first fumbled the snap. His ability to recover was outstanding. Locker’s play throughout the pre-season was solid enough that I honestly feel he could start the season, though not without hiccups. He does, however, need room to grow and that’s expected. After all, he IS a rookie.
On to Gabbert. Entering the draft season, it was believed that the #1 pick (Panthers) would come down to Gabbert and Newton. Newton, coming off a Heisman and National Championship season, had all the physical measurables and then some. Gabbert possessed above average measurables, but without the resume of Newton. The Panthers ultimately went with Newton, leaving Gabbert up for grabs. Newton’s performance at this point leaves a lot to be desired. Steelers backup QB Dennis Dixon would have been a much better pickup at a less costly rate.
Anyway, back to Gabbert who has resembled the 2010 version of Jimmy Clausen. He gets spooked behind the line scrimmage at random times. He overthrows his wideouts, yet also suffers from drops and he throws behind the wr’s, who he seems to have no connection with. I understand that Jacksonville has an offensive line that underwhelms at times and a group of WR’s that most fans wouldn’t know, but that shouldn’t keep Gabbert from having flashes of brilliance. Every once in a while, however, Gabbert looks good. The problem is that these aren’t regular ocurrances. Former Jaguars great Tony Boselli announced on tonight’s broadcast that Gabbert will start the season as the #3 QB on the depth chart. The tenth overall pick should at the least find his way to second on the depth chart. This being a shortened off-season, I’ll cut him some slack. Maybe he just hits his stride a little later, or maybe he is a bust. Time will tell.
Titans fans, the front office seems to have pulled a great move…… at least at this point. Locker sits in a refinement type stage while Gabbert is farther behind, developing. Gabbert seems to be much more of a project than Locker, and for Titans fans, that should be music to the ears.
The pre-season victory goes to Jake Locker.