The Seniors' time to Shine

Jake Locker

Mobile, Ala. - Several of the draft's top quarterback prospects are underclassmen, so it's time for the seniors to shine at the Under Armour Senior Bowl. Who stepped up during Day 2 of practice?

Mobile, Ala - College football's top seniors are in attendance for the Under Armour Senior Bowl along with hordes of NFL personnel and media to get a close up look at the future of the NFL. Being that underclassmen are excluded from the event, hence the name, it's time for a group of senior quarterbacks to shine.

Washington's Jake Locker's (6'2.2/228) potential draft position in the 2010 draft is debatable depending on who is asked. According to some, he was a Top 5 pick in last year's draft had he come out, and according to other scouts, he would have been a 2nd rounder at best. What's not debatable is that he came to Mobile as the highest profile signal caller amongst a group of six who also include Ricky Stanzi (Iowa), Colin Kaepernick (Nevada), Christian Ponder (Florida State), Andy Dalton (TCU), and Greg McElroy (Alabama).

Locker did nothing to disprove the notion that he would be the first senior quarterback off the board in April's draft. He got off to a slow start this morning, overthrowing several receivers in a row, but as he warmed up and the action grew more intense, Locker got better. 

Locker was at his best during the team 11 vs. 11 and other passing drills that featured a live defense. Locker showed good touch on underneath routes and enough arm to hit the critical deep out by which all NFL arms are judged. Locker finished the day hitting all sectors of the field, whether it was a deep seam route to Lee Smith of Marshall or to the sideline on a wheel route to one of the running backs.

Locker's biggest challenge for the top spot today came from North teammate Ricky Stanzi (6'4.1/221) of Iowa. Stanzi stands taller in the pocket than Locker, and his footwork was best on the day. He got off to a terrific start showing a strong, accurate arm and good throwing mechanics. He shows nice touch on underneath throws and has a whip at the top of his motion that helps him generate a lot of velocity without having to expend a lot of effort to do it. 

While Locker got stronger as the day went on, Stanzi began to lose accuracy as the number of throws began to pile up. When he was missing receivers, it appeared as though he was getting on top of the ball and pushing it down, skipping several passes to receivers on sideline routes. On the whole though, he was the second best quarterback of the day, and has maybe done as much as anyone to this point in improving his draft stock.

Nevada's Colin Kaepernick (6'4.5/225) is the wildcard on the North squad, playing in a shotgun offense that involves a lot of read option and running, he had the biggest adjustment to make of the North quarterbacks.

Physically speaking Kaepernick is the biggest of the six quarterbacks in attendance and arguably the most athletic. Fundamentally, he's not where his fellow signal callers are at this stage of their careers. His footwork needs some work in the pocket, and he has a throwing motion that brings the ball down to his waist before he brings the ball around to release it. 

While he has a very strong arm, the delay in his release is sometimes all a defensive back needs to make the difference between a completion and a broken up pass, or worse. Kaepernick is a raw talent who has as much physical ability as anyone in the draft short of Cameron Newton.

There's a fairly stark contrast between the three quarterbacks on the North vs. the three quarterbacks on the South squad. Locker is the smallest of the North quarterbacks, yet he's bigger than any of the South signal callers.

Florida State's Christian Ponder (6'2.1/222), TCU's Andy Dalton (6'2/213), and Alabama's Greg McElroy (6'1.6/222) are fairly interchangeable as passers.

No one from the South team established himself as the player to beat for the starting nod on Saturday.

Ponder appears to have the strongest arm of the South squad, but he doesn't have what would be considered a plus arm. Ponder throws an accurate, catchable ball, and he's been unable to use one of his best weapons, his legs. With no contact on the quarterbacks, Ponder has been relegated to a pocket passer.

Dalton, like Ponder is a heady quarterback who takes care of the football. Dalton was not intercepted on the day and hit a variety of receivers including teammate Jeremy Kerley (5'9.2/188) of TCU who was the South's top receiver on the day.

McElroy also did a good job of putting the ball where it needed to be, hooking up with tight ends Luke Stocker (6'4.7/255) of Tennessee and teammate Preston Dial (6'2.1/238) of Alabama on consecutive throws.

It's not a stretch to say that of the six senior quarterbacks in attendance, it will be the three North players off the draft board first. It may be even safer to say that Jake Locker has helped cement his position as the top senior quarterback in the country.

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