Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The People's Choice: Jake Locker Leading the Way With 18 of 100 Fan Votes

Apparently Vikings fans like the way Jake Locker looks in purple. On January 24th I posted the poll in the right column, which includes opening day ages and valuation. Nearly two months later, my appraisals don't seem far off (with the lone exception being that I probably undervalued Cam Newton), and Jake Locker has risen to the top of your wish list. His stock has been erratic -- he's been most often linked to Seattle at No. 25, but he's ranging from an early first rounder to a late second rounder. With the Combine behind him and individual workouts in full effect, he's gaining steam -- he's currently thought to be in the mix for both Washington (No. 10) and Minnesota (No. 12). In fact, he's in town today working out for the Vikings.

In short, Locker is an outstanding duel-sport athlete with a big arm and loads of moxie. The Angels' 2009 10th round outfielder actually tied Cam Newton's 4.59 40 time at the Combine. Had Locker entered the 2010 NFL Draft after his Junior season, he may have been the No. 1 overall pick the draft. However, he returned to the University of Washington for his final year, and his stock took a hit as he struggled with accuracy and mechanics on a losing team. By most accounts he's made strong offseason impressions on scouts and front offices, restoring his reputation as a potential NFL star.

The next five fan picks shake out like this:

I must admit I'm a bit shocked. Draft experts have elevated Blaine Gabbert and Cam Newton into their own tier, and many have Ryan Mallett (and others) ahead of Locker as well. Yet not only is Locker leading the overall poll, but he's thumping his fellow rookies among Vikings fans.

Joe Webb has surprisingly strong support coming off a small sample size, and it's become obvious that fans have no interest in Band-Aids like Donovan McNabb or Matt Hasselbeck.

With the ongoing labor negotiations killing trades and free agency, it's looking more and more like the Vikings will set the quarterback crosshairs on April's draft.

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