Can Jake Locker be a franchise quarterback? It seems like this question has resurrected itself every year since Locker was drafted. The young 2014 offseason is no different.
Ever since Ken Whisenhunt came to town, he has not tipped his hand for the positive or negative on Locker. He seems to be a coach that is willing to let players compete with the best performers rising to the top as starters.
Nobody ever expected Kurt Warner to have the career resurgence that he did under Whisenhunt in Arizona. He beat out their first-round draft pick for the starting gig and took them all the way to a Super Bowl.
This has Titans fans buzzing about who they should bring in to compete with Locker. The cupboard is pretty bare as far as free agents go, but there is a fresh crop of rookies available this May in the NFL draft. While there are several intriguing options in the draft, I think we are overlooking one painfully obvious possibility.
He was drafted with the 15th pick of the fourth round in the 2013 draft by the Oakland Raiders. In the midst of their quarterback circus that involved Matt Flynn, Matt McGloin and Terrelle Pryor, the Raiders stashed Wilson on their practice squad.
Late in the season, the Titans signed Wilson off of Oakland’s practice squad, and he remains on the Titans’ roster making a mere $495,000 for 2014.
Wilson’s best year in college came in 2011 for the Arkansas Razorbacks. In 2012, the Razorbacks had a tumultuous season as they lost their head coach in embarrassing fashion. Wilson remained the starter in 2012, but he had a down year.
He was projected to be a mid-round draft pick in 2013 with the possible upside to be a quality NFL starter.
The Titans will not use their first-round pick on a quarterback this year. In order to get a high-caliber quarterback, they would likely need to trade up several spots in Round 1. See Titan Sized editor, Joshua Huffman’s recent article explaining why this is unlikely to happen (HERE).
By the time Round 2 rolls around, the top four quarterbacks will surely be gone. Several Titans fans want the Titans to draft some competition for Jake Locker with their Round 2 pick.
Before you jump on that bandwagon, take a look at what they already have on their roster in Tyler Wilson and consider the other needs that could be met with that second rounder.
The following chart depicts the last two college seasons for quarterbacks rated 5-10 by Dane Brugler of cbssports.com:
Size: NFL quarterbacks need to be somewhat tall in order to see over the line and make precise decisions. Anyone past 6’0” is generally acceptable, but the taller the better. Wilson is fine in this department.
Experience: All of these quarterbacks have at least two seasons of work as a starter in college. While some plied their trade in weaker conferences, Wilson is one of four from this list that has played his snaps against stout SEC defenses.
Accuracy: Out of these seven quarterbacks, none dipped below 61% and none above 69% over their last 2 seasons as a starter. This gives an idea of the range of accuracy that is expected. Wilson was on the low end in this percentage category, but beat out the No. 7 and No. 10 quarterbacks listed.
Production: Wilson’s yardage totals are above average on this list, but his TD totals aren’t great.
When it comes to a quarterback competition in Tennessee this year, it is very possible. Jake Locker will get the first shot, but he could be ineffective or injured quickly. The Titans are unlikely to keep more than three total quarterbacks on the final-53 with Locker and Fitzpatrick taking up two spots. That leaves one potential opening for a competitor.
It is unheard of for a fourth-round quarterback to get essentially dropped by his team in his rookie season. Many will write Wilson off because of that.
Considering the mess that was Oakland’s quarterback situation in 2013, their judgment of quarterbacks should be called into question. Wilson’s odds may be long to make an impact in the NFL at this point, but so are most of the quarterbacks in the above list.
If the Titans don’t get an absolute steal on their QB3, why not let Tyler Wilson compete? Let me know what you think in the comments below or on twitter.