Scouting Missouri QB Drew Lock as part of our Draft Prospects for the 2019 NFL Draft.
Drew Lock – QB
University of Missouri – Senior
Career Passing Stats: 12931 Yards/99 TDs/39 INTs
Career Rushing Stats: 437 Yards/6 TDs
Gunslinger. Inaccurate. Golden Arm. Reckless. Supremely confident.
Those are labels various outlets have bestowed upon Drew Lock, one of the Class of 2019’s most polarizing prospects. On the ultra-aggressive end of the scouting spectrum he has been compared to Patrick Mahomes. Others say he is a combination of Jay Cutler’s arm and Eli Manning’s decision making. He’s even been compared to Josh Allen.
So who, exactly, is Drew Lock as a quarterback? For starters he is probably none of the above. Comparing anyone to Mahomes is absurdly unfair and he does not have the pure arm strength of Allen. What he does possess are smooth mechanics and the ability to make almost any throw:
That throw shouldn’t look easy but with a flick of the wrist he drops one in the bucket. Here’s another one:
That’s an NFL throw. Receiver beats his man off the line, Lock resets his feet ever so slightly after the play fake and makes a perfect pass. Defender has no chance. Lock resetting his front foot on the throw is the sign of a refined product.
A lot of QBs would see this play develop, get excited, rush through mechanically, and throw flat-footed. Lock does a really nice job of getting his front foot positioned to make a better pass. The result is an easier-than-it-looks touchdown.
It is plain to see why some scouts and NFL coaches rave. These two throws aren’t howitzer-armed. They have a lot of touch and the timing is perfect. That is probably an underrated part of his game, especially inside the Red Zone.
Arm Talent: A
Lock’s meal ticket is his arm talent as he can really spin the football. This play from the 2018 Florida game is the perfect situation to take a shot down the field. Its 3rd and 10 and Florida is going to bring outside pressure on the play. Lock recognizes single high safety and man coverage on the lone receiver to the left of the formation.
He’s going to hold the safety with his eyes for just a second before unleashing a laser:
Can’t throw it any better. The coverage is pretty solid but the throw is so good the receiver doesn’t have to break stride. There’s no wasted movement in Lock’s throwing mechanics. The ball is snapped, he looks off the safety, two short bounces, and a quick release. Impossible to defend.
Here’s another play, this time against Tennessee. Pre-snap he sees pressure coming on the right side and again single coverage on the outside. Play-action at the snap, he slides left just enough to reset himself and then delivers another strike:
Big time throw. If he leads his receiver more this is a touchdown but its still thrown with plenty of zip. The ball is out quickly and the throwing motion is effortless. He knows how to diagnose coverage and on both these plays he knew where the ball was going before it was snapped. Best arm in the 2019 draft class.
Decision Making: C
As good as Lock’s arm is, he can be maddening with his decision making in the pocket. Fortunately he cut down on his number of interceptions last year from 13 to eight, but there is still work to do. At times he locks onto a receiver and takes unnecessary risks. Part of this is trusting his arm too much because he has the ability. As we will see here, having the ability to make all the throws doesn’t mean you actually should:
This is Missouri’s second play from scrimmage, not exactly making for an ideal start. Turnovers inside your own 35 are a killer but this one is troubling. Lock stares down his man for a half-second before forcing the throw.
The receiver doesn’t get any separation off the line, but Lock has predetermined he is going there regardless. He doesn’t go through any other progressions and the result is Missouri on the verge of being down two scores. This play should be on loop for every GM who is considering him in the 1st Round.
Decision making is a big question for me. He trusts his arm, which is good, but he takes too many chances. I think an alpha offensive coordinator can break him of this but how much is up for debate.
Lock has been reported to run a 4.85 40 so he can make things happen if a play breaks down. He also ran some read options and RPO’s while at Missouri giving him an edge in this department over Dwayne Haskins:
Solid work. Lock keeps his eyes downfield and his first instinct when the pocket breaks down isn’t to run. He fights the urge to try and force a pass to his checkdown and instead picks up almost nine yards. Naturally he needs to learn how to get out of bounds but I like his ability to extend a play.
Here is a read option during the same game. The defense collapses with the running back and Lock makes a good decision to keep the ball:
It is unlikely he will be asked to do this much in the NFL. Still, it is something he brings to table and he isn’t afraid to take on contact. Lock is by no means a mobile QB. He does, however, have just enough mobility to keep a defense honest.
Lock reportedly is a good kid who is soft-spoken. His decision to come back to Missouri this year was a tough one but he made some necessary adjustments. While he didn’t put up the gaudy TD numbers of his junior season, his interceptions were down and completion percentage was up. Its one thing for a 21-year old to recognize areas for improvement. It is another for him to actually work on those areas. This is encouraging and what we want to see in terms of progression.
That said, Lock also struggled against elite competition. He posted completion percentages of 47.9%, 50%, and 55.6% against the three toughest defenses he faced (Georgia, Alabama, Kentucky). Against Georgia he saw heavy pressure most of the game and never got into a rhythm. His footwork was bad and he forced a lot of throws. Same thing against Alabama.
To his credit, he was playing with a talent deficit because Missouri is a step behind a lot of SEC schools in that department. The fact they finished the season 4-1 is due in large part to Lock elevating his play:
(Credit: CFB @ Sports-Reference.com)
The 67% completion percentage and 12:2 TD-to-interception ratio over this stretch were both much improved from earlier in the season. If he can maintain this type of ball security and accuracy, he is a better prospect than Haskins.
The concern is that this is a small sample against mediocre competition but he does have 963 more collegiate pass attempts than Haskins does. I think right now I would rank him above Daniel Jones based on arm talent and neck-and-neck with Haskins based on the lack of consistency (Lock owns the advantage in arm strength, among other things).
The Final Grade: B
Coming into this I didn’t like Drew Lock as a prospect. I even told natecheat he would get an NFL GM fired within five years if they took him in the 1st Round. I still have concerns – the consistent accuracy issues have to be remedied. His performance against elite defenses is another red flag.
He needs to understand that even if he can make every throw, he doesn’t have to make every throw. Living to play another down is one of the last skills a young quarterback acquires and Lock needs to build a lot of capital in that area.
That said, I might have suffered from prospect fatigue with him. Some of the throws he makes are rivaled only by Kyler Murray in this class and even Murray is a tick behind him. His mechanics are sound and physically he checks every box.
Playing SEC competition was legit. He did this with mostly 3* talent around him so he won’t be lost if he lands in a spot without a ton of talent on offense. If he gets his accuracy issues under control, he will be a very good NFL quarterback.
In fantasy, a lot will depend on who drafts him. On a team like Jacksonville, he is a back-end QB2 in re-draft but the range of outcomes is wide. Should he land somewhere and be the starter, you could do worse as a stash. Obviously if he is a backup, it helps his long-term prognosis but 2018 is a wash. In dynasty, it depends on roster construction.
If you want to take on the upside (and stomach the risk), draft him ahead of Haskins. The perfect scenario is having a guy like Cam Newton rostered and taking him as a high ceiling heir. In any event for fantasy and real life, he is now my #2 ranked quarterback in this class.