Positives: The best word to describe Locke is fast. He is extremely quick, has a great burst, impressive change of direction speed and terrific straight line speed to top it off. He is very dangerous in the open field and does a good job of making guys miss and cutting to find room to run and seems to have good vision as a runner. He runs patiently and lets his blockers get into position before he makes his cuts, and does a good job of finding a seam or room to run even when there isn’t much there. Despite his small size Locke can still get some yardage after initial contact and can run through arm tackles in the open field because of his speed and leg drive. He is also a big threat as a receiver out of the backfield because of his terrific acceleration, and once he gets the ball with a little green in front of him he covers a lot of yardage in a flash. He catches the ball well in the flat and even caught a couple long balls from Hartline, so he should be a threat on wheel routes in the NFL. He offers some ability as a pass blocker, but I haven’t seen him in this capacity very much.
Negatives: Locke’s small stature is obviously going to be questioned because he got nicked up as a Senior and missed some time, and durability will be potential issue for him in the NFL. He will probably be a 3rd down back in the NFL and a guy that is more of a complementary back than a full time starter. There will be questions about how effective he is at running between the tackles because of this, however he was an effective inside runner as a college player so hopefully that won’t be an issue. However, he does tend to bounce runs outside a lot and that will hurt him in the NFL where he will be facing defenses with much better team speed than he faced in college so it will be harder to bounce runs outside as consistently as he did in college.
Overall: Locke has a lot of ability and I think he will be a very effective 3rd down back in the NFL. I don’t know that he will ever be a starter, but I think he can be an effective change of pace back for a long time assuming he avoids serious injury. He has game-breaking speed and quickness and that is going to make him very valuable as a runner (especially once the defense is worn down a bit) and as a receiver out of the backfield. He also returned kicks at Kentucky though I do not know if he will do that in the NFL, but he was effective when doing so in college. With Locke what you see in college is largely what you are going to get in the NFL as he is pretty fundamentally sound. That limits his “upside” but it means he should be able to come in immediately and contribute as a rookie which makes him a very intriguing option in the middle of the draft.
Projection: 4th-5th round. I don’t know where he will go in this range, but I think he would be a great value in this range. He will be able to come in and contribute as a rookie, and I could really see him being thought of as a steal in the future if he goes this late.
1-poor, 2-weak, 3-above average, 4-very good, 5-elite
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