Titans pleased to have Locker, focused on draft's next round

Friday, April 29, 2011 at 12:01am

Nick Fairley was still available. So was Blaine Gabbert.

But the Tennessee Titans didn’t sway from their plan of attack when it was their turn to make the eighth selection in the first round of the 2011 NFL Draft on Thursday night.

So, they snagged former University of Washington quarterback Jake Locker, whom Titan officials had eyed all offseason — visiting with him on five occasions.

“I think it was a full consensus,” Titans General Manager Mike Reinfeldt said. “Everybody involved — the scouts, the coaches, the head coach, the general manager — I think it is a guy we liked early, we targeted early and we were ecstatic when he fell to us.”

“As a competitor, you wanted to get drafted as high as possible,” Locker said via a conference call. “I wanted to go as high as I could… I was very happy with how this process went for me.”

With Vince Young presumably headed out the door — the lockout has halted the Titans from trading or releasing the quarterback after they publicly announced the two parties would part ways after the 2010 season — quarterback was obviously a big need for the Titans.

But they also wanted to pad their defensive line and Fairley, a defensive tackle out of Auburn, appeared to be someone who could fit that job description. Fairley was later drafted by the Detroit Lions with the 13th overall pick.

Reinfeldt said the team felt like drafting a defensive lineman in the first round wasn’t a must. They’ll most likely make that selection on the second day of the draft, which starts at 5 p.m. Friday. The Titans have the 39th pick in the second round and the 77th in the third round.

Twelve defensive linemen were taken in the first round, but the Titans remain confident they can find a good one on the second day.

“I think that is part of the equation knowing that you can still get some very capable people in the second round or even the third round that can help on defense,” Reinfeldt said. “It is a deep class, especially at the defensive line.”

Then Gabbert, a 6-foot-5, 235-pound quarterback from Missouri, was still around, too. But the Titans were pleased with what they saw firsthand from Locker along with his four-year career with the Huskies. He had 7,639 passing yards and 53 touchdowns, along with 35 interceptions.

Offensive coordinator Chris Palmer said he became “very, very impressed with [Locker] from the first workout.” Plus, Locker’s play-action style might fit in better with running back Chris Johnson and the Titans.

Gabbert played in the spread offense at Missouri.

“Blaine was in the mix of guys that we considered,” Reinfeldt said. “At the end of the day, I think the consensus for us was that Jake made more sense for us, but Blaine is a very talented young man.”

Titans head coach Mike Munchak added: “I don’t really want to compare them — I’m happy with [Locker].”

Locker was one of four quarterbacks drafted in the first round, joining Auburn’s Cam Newton (Carolina, first overall), Christian Ponder of Florida State (Minnesota, 12th) and Gabbert (Jacksonville, 10th).

Locker might not be the only quarterback the Titans acquire this offseason. Reinfeldt said the team still plans to sign a veteran quarterback.

On Thursday, though, the Titans believe they answered one big glaring need. Now, onto the next one.

“There is a certain relief, a certain sense of accomplishment that lets you move on to other needs,” Reinfeldt said. “There is a very good chance there are still a lot of good defensive players up there — defensive line[men] and linebackers. There will be some guys that we are interested in.”

7 Comments on this post:

By: TITAN1 on 4/29/11 at 6:06

Great pick! Welcome to Nashville, Jake Locker!

By: fdanshep on 4/29/11 at 6:43

I thought that the Titans would take a QB w/ the first pick but Locker was a complete surprise. Have to trust the coaches and scouts and hope Bud stays out of the selection process.

I have followed the Lions since Swartz took over and because of some x-Titans on the team. They are ready to make a move in the NFC and I can root for them more times than not. Lions fans should be elated this morning.

By: bruingeek on 4/29/11 at 6:46

We'll get to know Jake soon. In the meantime, welcome to Nashville, Mr. Locker!

By: jwk6179 on 4/29/11 at 11:56

I hope that the Titans will take the same approach with Jake Locker that the Chargers took with Philip Rivers and the Packers took with Aaron Rodgers and let him learn the system for a year or two instead of throwing him out there as the starter they did with Vince Young or Chris Palmer did with Tim Couch and David Carr. And I hope that members of the Nashville Sports Media will allow him to become a GOOD NFL QB before they start ANNOINTING Locker as ONE OF THE ELITE QBS IN THE NFL!!!

Also, I noticed that Mike Munchak was quoted in the Tennessean this morning that he and the Titans coaching staff were surprised and delighted that Jake Locker was still there at #8 and how Jake Locker fell to them. I was under the impression that NO TEAM that was picking before the Titans had any interest in Jake Locker and that the Vikings were the FIRST TEAM after the Titans picked that had ANY INTEREST in Jake Locker.

By: TITAN1 on 4/29/11 at 12:32

I think the Titans will start him when he is ready if we don't get another QB from another team like McNabb, Hasselbeck, Kitna, or Orton. Those are just examples. If we can get someone like that then I think he sits a year or two. He seems to have his head on straight and has all the intangibles.

By: Los Titanes on 4/29/11 at 3:22

Well hello fans and critics
I will have to agree with most of you, and WELCOME Mr Locker!
From my understanding he didn´t have much help around him and never pouted when things didn´t go his way. That is a leadership upgrade right there. He is very Athletic and mentally tough , he also brings a cannon arm and intelligence, which means no matter how he starts he will stay and focus and improve with the mentality necessary to become a winner.

I disagree with Titans 1 , he will not more than 1 year if that: I see us get a veteren QB who loses his job before the season ends: sad but true as our likely 2011 season, but hey I am also optimistic about us being 9-7 or better this year under Munch. So I am a fan

Titanes out

By: Los Titanes on 4/29/11 at 4:04

Jake is kinda like he has that Big Ben, VY , Aaron Rodgers, Steve Young,, Steve Mcnair etc.. type abilities, some are winners some were held back by their own weaknesses and personalities. I think he has some of that ability to play early, mid season is my prediction, he will not sit long. However, I maintain we will finish with 9-7. I think he will help win some games.
Titanes out