Tennessee Titans 2013 Breakout Candidate: Jake Locker
Obviously all of the fantasy football aficionados love Jake Locker’s prospects already given his dual threat value, but his on-field success hasn’t exactly wowed the guys actually signing the checks to this point. The Tennessee Titans are still waiting for their former top 10 selection to have his coming out party at the NFL level, and there is reason for optimism that the shindig could actually go down in 2013.
Perhaps the biggest reason for an upbeat outlook concerning Locker’s upcoming season is the Titans’ overhaul from this past offseason. The team already had a Pro Bowl level left tackle in Michael Roos on the offensive line, but that is about it when it came to protection for Locker. Signing Andy Levitre and drafting Chance Warmack to man the two guard positions will go a long way toward taking pressure off of the third-year signal caller.
The first and most obvious benefit is that these guys will thwart any oncoming pass rushers before they can get their hands on Locker. Clearly both Levitre and Warmack will do well in pass blocking, but perhaps where the biggest upside will be is in the running game. And everyone knows a good running game helps a quarterback more than anything. Chris Johnson’s down years have coincided with Locker’s career to this point so getting CJ2K back to his productive self circa 2008 and 2009 would be a big step in the right direction.
Where Locker himself must really improve is in the accuracy department where he has never been any better than average. Even coming out of the University of Washington questions surrounded his consistent ability to deliver the ball on target. Question marks like that certainly aren’t ideal for a quarterback. The signal caller has to keep himself healthy as well as he missed five games last season due to injury. He was sacked 25 times in just 11 games during 2012, but the upgrades to the line along with CJ2K’s hopeful return to productivity will lessen those issues.
The final piece to the puzzle for Locker finding success is all of the targets around him. His favorite receiver in Kenny Britt has been troubled by injuries and off the field issues in recent years, but he is on track to enter 2013 without either being a problem. Britt along with Nate Washington, Kendall Wright, rookie Justin Hunter, and even free agent additions Kevin Walter and tight end Delanie Walker should provide plenty of aerial options.
A career competition percentage of just 55.5 is not going to get it done in 2013. The Titans need to see some serious improvement from Locker this coming season to give them assurance that he is the future of the franchise. Look for Locker to finally have his much anticipated breakout campaign in 2013 and put the fears of Titans fans to rest for good.