The conclusion of the 2018 NFL Draft brought with it a wave of 2019 mock drafts, and Missouri quarterback Drew Lock had to enjoy reading them.
Several such stories featured Lock as a projected first-round pick. Bleacher Report’s Matt Miller plugged him at No. 4 overall, and Sporting News‘s Eric Galko did the same. The Tigers star threw an SEC-record 44 touchdown passes last year, flashing his NFL-caliber arm strength for scouts and analysts alike.
“The exciting part is all the tools are there,” Galko said. “Coaching staffs and offensive coaches are going to like Drew Lock, because they see him as a guy who has so much potential. Arm talent. [Success throwing to the] perimeter. Natural feel for the game on the outside. Great athletic ability for a guy who could be a pocket passer and then some.”
But, as Galko added, it’s about “cleaning all those things up.” If Lock can’t be more consistent, his suddenly valuable draft stock will take a plunge.
“He’s a streaky quarterback,” Galko said. “And when he’s in a rhythm — when he’s rolling outside-in as a passer and attacking downfield with accuracy — that’s when teams are excited about him. But he gets hot and cold way too often. I think a lot of that is just being comfortable with himself. Trusting his footwork. Trusting his technique … It’s not just saying, develop fundamentally and then you’ll be better. It’s transitioning what you do well when the game’s on the line. When there’s pressure, when it’s third down, when it’s the second half and defenses are adjusting. That’s where Drew Lock had trouble last year.”
Critics are quick to point to Missouri’s particularly soft schedule as the primary reason for Lock’s big numbers. A quick analysis of his numbers shows he did perform much more efficiently — and played an unusual number of games — against poor teams:
Drew Lock in 2017
|Drew Lock||Comp %||Yds/Att||TD||INT||Rating|
|vs. teams >.500||53.6||7.75||10||4||136.81|
|vs. all other teams||59.8||10.30||34||9||179.85|
Galko said that, while NFL teams understand most of Lock’s numbers came against subpar competition, those games were valuable because they showed off Lock’s potential.
And it’s not as if he didn’t have his moments against tougher competition, either. In the first half against eventual SEC champion Georgia, Lock stunned the Bulldogs with 322 yards and a pair of touchdowns through the air.
“You saw where he got really comfortable and excited, almost, in the pocket,” Galko said. “He knew what he needed to recognize, he knew where to go with the ball, he got his footwork in place and delivered downfield. That’s the kind of realization that young quarterbacks often have. It’s, OK, I know what to do in this situation. Let me go take advantage. And that’s what gets NFL teams excited, because if he can do that then, maybe with more comfort and reps, he’ll do that every single play.”
As of this moment, Galko said Lock is nowhere near a first-round guarantee. His No. 4 slot in the 2019 mock draft is almost solely based on potential. And there will be plenty of roadblocks, including adapting to a new offensive system this year.
But Lock has already called Derek Dooley’s new system “easier” than the previous one, and Galko thinks it might be more of a positive change than a negative one.
“We’re still 11 months away,” Galko said. “He’s got a lot of work to do. He’s got another whole offseason as the lead quarterback for an SEC program with a great offensive staff coming in. And I know it’s a new staff — that may be a hurdle — but I think it’s a great opportunity.”
Call your shot: Where do you think Drew Lock will land in the 2019 NFL Draft?