The Tennessee Titans landed their quarterback of the future, taking Jake Locker from the Washington Huskies, and in the process officially turned the page on the Vince Young era.
Tennessee spent more time with Locker than any player in the draft, eyeing him at the Senior Bowl, the Combine, his pro day, staying over for a private workout and finally hosting him for a visit.
“They stayed in touch with me throughout the process, and it was an awesome process to go through. I feel fortunate to have ended up with them,” Locker said.
The Titans bypassed Blaine Gabbert of Missouri, whom many had ranked higher, and the choice likely came down to Locker vs. Auburn defensive tackle Nick Fairley, whose defensive line coach Tracy Rocker joined Mike Munchak's staff this season.
Locker was a player who was regarded as a potential first overall pick in 2010 had he entered the draft, but his stock fluctuated after an up-and-down senior season.
Locker and Andy Dalton of Texas Christian were the two quarterbacks Tennessee had targeted in the draft, and the decision came down to how much the Titans liked Locker, who had obviously been a favorite of many scouts, coaches and in the personnel department.
Munchak said his visit with Locker when the Titans attended his pro day and stayed over for a private workout sold him on the Washington quarterback.
“When we went out to Washington to spend some time with him, and when I saw him work out with (offensive coordinator) Chris (Palmer), how he was responding to it and how competitive he was, just eyeballing how intense he was, I pictured myself being in the huddle with this guy and I thought, 'Man, these guys will love playing for this guy,'” Munchak said of his first-ever pick as head coach.
Locker's personality and work ethic tilted the scales in his favor, especially given that the Titans had suffered through five seasons of Young's ego and lackadaisical work ethic, something that eventually helped hasten his impending released.
“Whatever they ask me to do, I'm going to do my best to do it the very best I can. I'm gonna do my best whenever I get my opportunity and I'm gonna make sure I'm prepared for it,” Locker said..
New offensive coordinator Chris Palmer is already excited about the chance to work with Locker and said his presence will help change the lax culture that existed with Young and surrounded the end of the Jeff Fisher era.
“We have a new culture here at the quarterback spot, a guy that's gonna be the first one in here, the last one out,” Palmer said.
Vice president of player personnel Ruston Webster said Locker had everything the Titans were looking for in a new on-field leader.
“I think it was his leadership, his toughness, his smarts and his talent. He's a very talented young man with a lot of makeup,” Webster said. “When everybody talks about him, they talk about his intangibles, but he's a very talented player. And that combination is going to bode well for him. He's got a great work ethic.”
Added quarterbacks coach Dowell Loggains, “He's the total package.”
In four years at Washington, Locker completed 619 of 1,148 passes for 7,639 yards with 53 touchdowns and 35 interceptions.
Locker's best season at Washington came as a junior, when he hit on 230 of 395 passes for 2,800 yards with 21 TDs and 11 interceptions. As a senior, he completed 184 of 332 passes for 2,265 yards with 17 touchdowns and nine interceptions.
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