Much of the discussion regarding drafting a QB centers around Gabbert or Newton with the #3, or other QBs with the #34. I have avoided commenting on many of the FanPosts because I wanted to see the Combine results. We all love statistics. They are something quatifiable. We can put them side-by-side, use them to justify viewpoints.
Now to my topic.
What gets lost in individual stats is the TEAM the players were on, and how they used the TEAM setting. For this topic I only compared the college teams of Locker & Newton, but I feel my point would also be true compared to other QBs.
Auburn has been a very good team for years. In the top half of SEC teams for a long time.
U of Wash had a fine program years ago, but the past several years it had not only hit rock bottom but dug that bottom deeper. Before Locker arrived, that team absolutely stunk, and most opposing teams circled a "W" on their calendar for their game against them.
In the PAC-10 USC & Oregon get the most talent, Stanford the most talent w/brains. Wash (& other PAC-10) get the leftovers and homegrown talent. Look at the NFL Draft over the period 2004-2010. Few U of W players listed. Plenty from the "elite" (Auburn is one of them) schools. Current NFL rosters have only a handful of Huskies total. This draft continues that trend.
What does any of this mean?
Well I see a SEC talented team that Newton had, and a very low talent U of W squad around Locker. Part of the equation when evaluating prospects should be to view what their teammates bring. Newton obviously was pivotal in his teams' championship season, but they most likely would have been 10-12 wins without him. I feel Newton was the difference between getting to a major bowl game without him or Nat'l Champ with him, so I am not denigrating him. Locker raised his team from a probable 1-2 win season to a bowl VICTORY over a top ten team. That may seem lesser, but those that follow NCAA know it was very special.
I am NOT putting Newton (& other QBs) down due to more talented teammates. That was their good fortunes. As we all remember from gym class sometimes you have non-athletic partners (or were that guy) that made it harder to excel. That is the situation Locker was in. Not comparing him to Jay Cutler in any other way, but does anyone think Vanderbilt had the talent of other SEC teams when Cutler played? Cutler is in the NFL because he had NFL QB qualities that showed despite his lack of high quality teammates. Again no comparison of styles, personality, or future intended. Another non-football parallel is Kansas winning the 1988 NCAA basketball championship with a single star, Danny Manning, beating Oklahoma, a team with three players drafted by NBA teams. Granted U of W did not win a championship (or conference) with Locker at the helm, but given his teammates talent level it can be argued that he did more with less.
This is all SPECULATIVE. Clearly both men (and the other QBs) are talented. They are different styles in many ways.
From my viewpoint:
I see Locker selflessly returning (http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/huskies/2010506165_locker15.html) to his team (dedication) to continue the rebuilding process, stating he had to throw better and not pointing fingers (leadership) when his WR had so many drops (http://www.heraldnet.com/article/20070918/SPORTS06/709180043/1002/SPORTS06), running a pro-style (NFL acumen) offense, and playing (http://www.aolnews.com/2010/11/01/jake-locker-washington-quarterback-to-miss-oregon-game-with-in/) with injured (toughness) ribs (I'm sure it hurt to throw and run).
Dedication, leadership, NFL acumen and toughness are some of the "intangibles" often mentioned for the QB position. Seems Locker has proven that he has these four qualities. The other QBs have them to some level too, but, IMO, not to the extent Locker has them.
His inaccuracy issues seem to stem from "overstriding". That is a vestige of his baseball training, and is quite correctable. This seems to be the only major knock on his game.
At this time (early March) I am still leaning to a defensive-side pick at #3, obtaining a starter or semi-starter, and an overall majority of defensive draft selections. I am not opposed to drafting a QB using the #34, with or without a trade. Based on current draft projections the Bills would not have a chance at Gabbert or Newton outside of the top ten. Draftniks have Locker anywhere from #10 to early 2nd round. The possibility exists to pick Locker at #34, or move up to select him if he falls into the 20s. Some will compare moving up to the mid-20s to the Losman scenario, and they have a valid point. I do not know how Locker will turn out. But right now he seems better.
My general analysis of the top QBs in this draft is they all have risks, but are approximately equal (all have pluses & minuses). So if the Bills find themselves with an opportunity to draft Locker anywhere from #25 to #34, I would be in favor of this selection.
I reserve the right to adjust my draft-think through April 21st.