Senior Citizens

Unpublished

Scouting Jake Locker and Christian Ponder at the Senior Bowl.

Scouting Jake Locker and Christian Ponder at the Senior Bowl.

At this year’s Senior Bowl, Jake Locker maintained his track record of consistent inconsistency while Christian Ponder cruised to the MVP award in Mobile on Saturday.

Lock It Up

With all eyes on Washington’s dual-threat signal-caller, Locker didn’t hold back — leading two three-and-outs to start the game, showing spotty footwork, fumbling twice and going 6-of-10 for 98 yards (with 34 coming on a check-down dump-off to Maryland running back Da’Rel Scott).

But, in typical Locker fashion, the 6’3”, 230-pounder looked the part, showed flashes of greatness in practice and handled his in-game interview with NFL Network like the face of the franchise he is poised to be.

Locker explained why his career completion percentage at UW was 53.9 (619-of-1148), never going above the 58.2 mark of his junior season.

“It’s not been very many years that I’ve been in the pocket, making passes from there,” explained Locker, who started his college career in Seattle under coach Tyrone Willingham before Steve Sarkisian took over in 2009. “So, with repetition it will only go up and up. I think that the best is in front of me as far as that goes.”

And the Los Angeles Angels’ 10th-round pick in 2009 — who hopes to be an NFL first-rounder in 2011 — was also forthright on what he needs to learn and improve on in order to be successful at the next level.

“Footwork. Footwork is obviously something that, being in a real dropback offense for a couple years now, is something that you’re always focused on,” said Locker. “When you go back and watch tape and don’t complete passes, it’s usually because your feet are in the wrong spot.”

It should be smooth sailing for Locker from here on out. With actual football in the rearview mirror, the physical specimen should put on a show at the Combine and wow decision-makers in interviews.

Just don’t put on the Nebraska game tape — either of them (combined 9-of-36 for 127 yards, TD, 2 INTs). Or the Stanford tape, for that matter (7-of-14 for 64 yards, 2 INTs in 41–0 loss in Seattle).

MV-Ponder

On the other end of the Senior Bowl quarterback universe, Florida State’s Christian Ponder showed the type of athleticism, arm strength, accuracy, footwork and poised pocket presence that many had hoped to see from the higher-rated Locker.

Ponder completed 7-of-13 passes for 132 yards, two TDs and zero INTs, while scrambling for 17 yards on the ground during a 24–10 South win. Both of Ponder’s TD passes were NFL-caliber throws.

The first scoring strike came on an 18-yard “sticks route” run by Miami wideout Leonard Hankerson and the second on a 23-yard strike down the seam — after looking off a safety with his eyes and a quick shoulder fake — to TCU triple-threat Jeremy Kerley.

The 6’3”, 227-pound Texan struggled through both shoulder and elbow injuries during his college career, but claimed to be “100 percent” in Mobile. In fact, Ponder was the only South quarterback to make it through the Senior Bowl unscathed, as Alabama’s Greg McElroy injured his right hand on an O-lineman’s helmet and TCU’s Andy Dalton was KO’d on an offsides blindside from Oklahoma end Jeremy Beal.

Ponder’s Senior Bowl MVP effort probably didn’t move him into the Locker, Cam Newton, Blaine Gabbert and Ryan Mallett debate; but he definitely made himself some money in Mobile.

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