Jake Locker of Ferndale was picked by the Tennessee Titans with the No. 8 pick in the 2011 NFL Draft Thursday night, April 28, the first Whatcom County player ever selected in the first round.
The Titans wasted no time replacing Vince Young as their quarterback, selecting the 6-foot-2 Locker over Missouri's Blaine Gabbert and choosing Locker and his mobility to pair with Pro Bowl running back Chris Johnson.
NFL.com provided this early analysis of the pick:
"The Titans select Jake Locker to become the new face of their franchise. As one of the top athletes in the draft, he gives them a dual threat at the position with the ability to make plays on the perimeter. While his accuracy problems raised some red flags, his leadership skills, work ethic and intangibles outweighed them and encouraged the Titans to go with Locker over a host of other options at the position."
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Locker is the highest player drafted by Tennessee since the Titans took Young at No. 3 overall in 2006. But the Titans plan to trade or either release Young before the 10th day of the new league year.
The Titans scouted Locker at the Senior Bowl, the NFL Combine, his pro day at Washington, a private visit and then brought him into Nashville for another meeting.
In the 40 games that he appeared in and started for Washington, Locker amassed 9,578 yards in total offense, ranking second all-time on the school's record list behind Cody Pickett (10,103 from 1999-03), a mark that ranks 11th in Pac-10 history. His 7,639 passing yards and 53 touchdown passes also place second in school history.
Locker passed up the draft in 2010 to return for his senior season, leading the Huskies to a 7-6 record and a thrilling 19-7 win over Nebraska in the Holiday Bowl.
In a pre-draft interview with NFL Network, Locker defended his career statistics, despite drawing criticism about his completion percentage that dipped from 58 percent as a junior to 55 percent his senior year.
"I've heard about the accuracy. Obviously the numbers aren't where you want them to be, but I truly believe I'm a more accurate passer than that," Locker said. "I want to show everybody that I can make the throws that I'll be asked to make and can do it on a consistent basis."
The former Ferndale High standout, who led the Golden Eagles to the Class 3A state championship in 2005, already has landed on the covers of Sports Illustrated and ESPN The Magazine and spent time on ESPN being grilled by Super Bowl-winning coach Jon Gruden.
Locker was also in demand as a baseball player, having signed a six-year contract with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in 2009 after twice being selected in the Major League Baseball Draft during his prep and college careers as an outfielder and pitcher. His baseball contract becomes void once he signs his NFL contract.
Locker watched the draft-day drama unfold in Ferndale, surrounded by family and close friends at the home of one of his relatives. He was schedule to hold a press conference later Thursday at Ferndale High School.
1. Carolina Panthers - Cam Newton (QB, Auburn)
2. Denver Broncos - Von Miller (LB, Texas A&M)
3. Buffalo Bills - Marcell Dareus (DT, Alabama)
4. Cincinnati Bengals - A.J. Green (WR, Georgia)
5. Arizona Cardinals - Patrick Peterson (CB, LSU)
6. Atlanta Falcons - Julio Jones (WR, Alabama)
7. San Francisco 49ers - Aldon Smith (DE, Missouri)
8. Tennessee Titans - Jake Locker (QB, Washington)