Explosive runner that is very quick in space. Has a dangerous first step when he can get downhill and run north and south. Has the speed to beat the defender to the corner. Runs hard for his size and will deliver the stiff arm to defender. Slips tackles because of his burst and he presents a small target for defenders. Has quick feet and good balance, and won't go down on initial contact. Has good burst and can make the quick jump cut in the hole, and manages to squeeze through creases. Patient and will wait for the play to develop, showing good potential on the stretch play. Shows some experience in pass protection and can be effective chipping the defensive end. Has good hands and comfortable catching the ball out of the backfield. Explosiveness makes him a natural on screens and short dump-offs. Has good potential as a kickoff returner.
Lack of size hurts him. Durability is a concern as well as ball security. Is limited when he's asked to run between the tackles. Can dance too much in the backfield and doesn't have great vision. Doesn't really like contact. Will let the ball get into his body at times as a receiver. Misses some assignments in pass protection.
Locke has the makings of being a solid third down and change of pace runner at the next level. Durability is a concern with him as he missed significant time in 3 out of the 4 years he played at Kentucky. Had his most productive year as a senior, despite missing 4 games due to shoulder and elbow injuries. Also suffered a broken forearm in an off-season moped accident back in June 2010. Rushed for 887 yards on 166 carries (5.3 avg) and 10 touchdowns as a senior with 34 receptions. As a junior, he had 907 yards on 195 carries (4.7 avg) and 6 scores with 31 receptions, in his lone healthy season. Played in only 7 games as a sophomore due to a torn MCL and ACL injury. Also missed his bowl game as a freshman due to a cracked rib. In those two years, he combined for 824 yards on 157 carries (5.2 avg), 6 scores, and 30 receptions. Also returned 54 kickoffs for an average of 27.1 yards and 2 touchdowns while at Kentucky.
Locke can come in right away and fill a niche as a change of pace back and special teams player in the NFL. He is not great in pass protection, but has a relatively low learning curve, which should mean he should be able to start and contribute significant minutes by the end of his rookie season. He is a guy that you'd like to get 10-15 touches a game, on the ground, in the air, and on kickoffs. His NFL future is probably similar to Jerious Norwood in that he can fill that same niche that Norwood filled early in his Falcon career. Like Norwood, he'll work best in a zone-blocking scheme that will run a lot of slants, stretches, draws, and get him out on the edge where his speed is dangerous. He can be a guy that can be a productive receiver. But I don't ever really see him holding up for a significant punishment for 16 games just like Norwood. He's never going to be a lead back, but can be one of the better third down backs in the league if in the proper offense. His explosiveness can create matchup issues, and he does show the potential to be used similarly to Reggie Bush and try to create those issues. But if a team wants to rely on him to be anything more than a situational player, they are setting themselves up for disaster. He just isn't a guy you want to rely upon in crunch time. But as a complementary playmaker, he can be an asset.
Locke can step in right away and replace Norwood. But like Norwood, going forward, his carries and touches will have to be monitored. His immediate value to the Falcons will likely come on special teams where he is a more explosive return threat on kickoffs than Eric Weems. He can get some reps on third downs from Snelling, but he's probably only a guy that is going to be trusted with no more than 5 touches on offense for most of the year. And he certainly would give the Falcons much cause to call more screen passes and try to get him to provide a big play on first downs. Going forward, once he gets more comfortable with pass protections, he can get more reps on offense. But again, he's going to be limited by how much offense he can play due to the durability concerns and the fact that he's not a great asset in the Mularkey offense.
For a team that is looking for an explosive change of pace back, he has the talent level of a second round pick. But his durability concerns mean that he'll probably never be fully trusted, and thus is much better value in the third round.
1-poor, 2-weak, 3-above average, 4-very good, 5-elite
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