Jake Locker's First 16 Career Starts - How Good Has He Been?

This last week was Jake Locker's 16th career start. It has been a bumpy start to Jake Locker's career so I wanted to see how Locker compares to the other recent young QBs over these past few years.

The good thing is there are a lot of young QBs starting for teams. I have found 11 other QBs drafted over the past three years that have started 16 games or more for their respective teams. So, Locker has a lot of brethren to compare himself.

I just looked at the basic passing stats for each player - completion percentage, Y/A, TD-INT ratio, etc. The table below highlights where each player stands for their first 16 career starts (note that this is just for the first 16 career starts for each player):

QB Cmp Att Cmp% Yds TD TD% Int Int% Y/A Rate TD-INT Ratio
Jake Locker 271 466 58.2 3223 18 3.9 12 2.6 6.9 81.5 1.5
Cam Newton 310 517 60 4051 21 4.1 17 3.3 7.8 84.5 1.2
Blaine Gabbert 235 465 50.5 2475 15 3.2 11 2.4 5.3 67.3 1.4
Christian Ponder 293 484 60.5 3188 21 4.3 17 3.5 6.6 79.8 1.2
Andy Dalton 300 516 58.1 3398 20 3.9 13 2.5 6.6 80.4 1.5
Colin Kaepernick 223 374 59.6 3028 18 4.8 8 2.1 8.1 92.6 2.3
Russell Wilson 252 393 64.1 3118 26 6.6 10 2.5 7.9 100 2.6
Andrew Luck 339 627 54.1 4374 23 3.7 18 2.9 7 76.5 1.3
Robert Griffin III 288 442 65.2 3529 22 5 7 1.6 8 99.6 3.1
Ryan Tannehill 282 484 58.3 3294 12 2.5 13 2.7 6.8 76.1 0.9
Brandon Weeden 323 570 56.7 3674 15 2.6 20 3.5 6.4 70.3 0.8
Average (w/o Locker) 285 487 58.5 3413 19 3.9 13 2.7 7 81.9 1.5
Average w/o Wilson, Kaep, RGIII, Locker 297 523 56.8 3493 18 3.4 16 3.1 6.7 76 1.1

So, what can we conclude from these starts?

Well, Locker has put up average stats compared to his peers. Nearly every stat of his is identical to the other QBs' averages.

If you look at the table, you do see 3 QBs who had incredible first 16 career starts - Russell Wilson, Colin Kaepernick, and Robert Griffin III. I would say that those 3 QBs have been put in ideal situations - teams with strong defenses, good running games, and coaches who initially installed offenses that matched what they did in college and matched their skillset.

So, if you exclude those three outliers, then Locker has performed better than the average. And, here are some stats from another notable Titans QB (first 16 career starts): 55.3% completion percentage, 17 TDs, 11 INTs, 7.6 Y/A, 4.2% TD ratio, 2.7% INT ratio, and 82.4 passer rating. No, that's not Vince Young's stats, it's Steve McNair's. So, Locker isn't too far off McNair's pace currently.

So, what does this mean?

Locker was deemed a "project" when coming out of college. His mechanics needed some work and he needed to learn more in a pro-style offense. But, despite being a "project", he has played just as well as any of these other QBs drafted near the same time as him. Considering the offensive line woes last year, the lack of a consistent running game, his "#1" receiver dropping multiple passes, and the switch in offensive coordinators, Locker has played really well.

Note that so far this year, Locker has completed 61.8% of his passes, 8 TDs, 1 INT, 6.9 Y/A, 5.3% TD ratio, 0.7% INT ratio, 8 TD-INT ratio, and a 97.1 passer rating.

Will Locker continue this great pace that he is on? Maybe. The defenses he faces the rest of the year are definitely of a lower tier than he has faced so far this year. Jacksonville, St. Louis, and Oakland are 3 of the worst 6 pass defenses in the league and Denver and Arizona are not that great either (the Colts defense will be the best of the remaining pass defenses). And, now with a more competent center and Greene back into the running game, there should be a more consistent running game to help him even more.

So, Locker has shown that he is capable of playing at the same level as the Andrew Lucks of the world. But, now he needs to take his game to the next level as he has started to this season. Loggains needs to open up the whole playbook and he has the whole bye week to incorporate the entire offense. No excuses anymore...everyone is healthy and ready and the defenses the Titans face are far inferior than what we have seen so far. Now is the time for Locker to lead us to the promise land.

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