Locker addresses accuracy issue at Washington pro day

SEATTLE -- Jake Locker dropped back seven steps and flicked a pass 60 yards downfield, barely missing the fingertips of wide receiver D'Andre Goodwin.

After 35 consecutive completions, all well-choreographed, it seemed about time for a pass to hit the ground.

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If scouts and NFL executives still had concerns about Locker's accuracy after his performances at the Senior Bowl and NFL Scouting Combine, some of those could have been put to rest Wednesday.

"It was better. It was more consistent," the Washington quarterback said. "There were a few throws in the combine that I didn't like and would have liked to do over again, and today, I felt like every ball came off my hand good. I felt confident, and it went where I wanted it to."

Locker completed 38 of his 40 pass attempts during Washington's pro day. While some of his former Huskies teammates went through the whole regimen of bench press, broad jump, 40-yard dash and individual drills, Locker's day lasted about 20 minutes at the very end with personnel from about 12 NFL teams looking on, including Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider, and Tennessee Titans offensive coordinator Chris Palmer.

What they saw was a well-structured series of throws on which Locker was nearly perfect. Most important, his footwork appeared sound, and of his 38 completions, just a few were off-target to where Locker's receivers were asked to make a difficult catch.

And when the pass was slightly off, Goodwin and tight end Dorson Boyce helped Locker look good in front of the scouts by keeping the ball from hitting the ground.

It's what scouts wanted to see after a shaky effort at the combine last month and backed the work Locker has done with former NFL quarterback Ken O'Brien to become quicker in his release and not "drag" his hand so much through his throw. The result was a tighter spiral and a more accurate pass.

"I was able to improve on my combine performance and be a little more consistent and fluid," Locker said. "I'm very happy with what I did today."

This wasn't entirely a showcase for Locker. Scouts also were interested in linebacker Mason Foster and safety Nate Williams.

But clearly Locker was the focus.

All eyes were on the quarterback when he took the field about 2½ hours after the event began. His place in the draft has been debated since he decided in December 2009 to return to school for his senior year, then struggled with injuries and inconsistency through a final year where Washington won its final three games to become bowl eligible and then upset Nebraska in the Holiday Bowl.

Locker was believed to be a possible No. 1 overall draft pick had he left Washington after his junior season. Now, many wonder if he'll even be picked in the first round.

Washington coach Steve Sarkisian said he'd be surprised if Locker fell out of the first round because "he is better than that."

Locker said he was invited by the league to attend the draft in New York, but he instead will be at his home in Ferndale, Wash. It's not out of concern about possibly falling into the second round, but more about his desire to be around his family.

"I appreciate the invite, but for me, I want to be with the people that have been with me my whole life and helped me get to this point, and I want to share that experience for them," Locker said. "Not all of them would be able to come to New York with me."

Foster hoped to lower his 40-yard dash time after running in 4.75 seconds at the combine. He ran in 4.67 on Wednesday and showed well in individual drills.

Foster has been considered a possible pick in the middle rounds of the draft.

"It was a little nerve-racking," Foster said. "But after going to the combine and everything you do there, you get kind of used to the process, and it was a lot of fun to come out here and compete against everybody."

Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press

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