Drew Lock: The Patrick Mahomes of The 2019 NFL Draft
When the NFL regular season came to a close, fans breathed a sigh of relief that it was finally over. It’s tough watching your favorite teams struggle, especially when your quarterback is Blake Bortles. Or Case Keenum. Even Eli Manning was painful to watch at times.
With the week-to-week anticipation now put to rest, teams will spend the next few months scouting the best prospects. And for some teams that will include finding a new quarterback. With scouts looking ahead to the next season, Dwayne Haskins is beginning to gain traction as the no. 1 QB on the board. But I’m here to tell you, it should be Drew Lock.
The Missouri Tiger
Drew Lock came in at 107th on the 2015 ESPN 300. Lock had a rocky start to his Freshman year; he rode the bench to start the first few games of the season. After QB Maty Mauk stunk up the place those first 4 weeks, Lock claimed the starting job Week 5. Lock ended 2015 with 1332 yards, 4 TDs, and 8 INT in what was a very uninspiring season.
The Missouri Tigers went on to hire Josh Heupel as their offensive coordinator in 2016. Under Heupel, Lock took a big step forward his Sophomore year posting 3399 yards, 23 TDs, and 10 INTs. He stepped into a new echelon his Junior year piling up totals of 3963 yards, 44 TDs, and 13 INT. Lock blossomed into a star in Heupel’s system.
After that terrific season where Lock set the SEC single-season passing touchdown record and was named to First-Team All-SEC, Lock mulled over making the jump to the next level. Drew Lock spent days, weeks, months deciding whether to return to Missouri or not.
Lock finally decided to return for his Senior year at Missouri. The chance to be a first round pick in 2019 was enticing for the young man. With Josh Heupel taking a head coaching job in UCF, the hire of former NFL assistant coach Derek Dooley to replace Heupel was another huge factor for Lock to make his return.
As Lock transitioned to more of a pro-style offense under Dooley, his numbers suffered a bit. Lock put up 3498 yards and 28 TDs. But with Dooley, Lock learned to read and diagnosis defenses better, leading to a career-low 8 INTs and a career-high completion percentage of 62.9%. Dooley gave Lock more freedom to operate, Lock was able to use his legs to put up a career-high 6 rushing TDs in 2018.
2018 ended with a disappointing loss to Oklahoma State in the Liberty Bowl. But it was a strong showing for the Senior that once again proved Drew Lock should go in the 1st round of the NFL Draft.
What Makes Him Special?
Drew Lock has things on lock. Okay, that was terrible.
Lock picked up another element to his game when Derek Dooley stepped on campus. Lock looked more cerebral as a signal caller his Senior year. When you watch Lock play, you see a lot of the same elements you do in Patrick Mahomes. And if you’re mentioned in the same sentence as Mahomes, that can only mean good things.
Like Mahomes, Lock is a gunslinger. When you think of Mahomes, the first thing that comes to mind is his unworldly arm strength. While Lock may not have the rocket arm of Mahomes, Lock can still throw the ball at least 65 yards down the field with ease. The key part of all this is that many of Lock’s passes come off balance and fading away, like Mahomes. And while NFL purists are criticizing the mechanics, those passes are very accurate.
There’s a ton to love about Lock. He has a quick release and has great zip on his throws. Lock has pinpoint accuracy. The thing I love most about Lock is his next level ball placement. Lock places the ball where only his receivers can catch it, he throws it where his receiver has the best chance of making a play on the ball.
This one had me in awe. With TE Kendall Blanton draped in coverage by the Oklahoma State defender, Lock throws a perfect pass in the one place only his man can go get the ball. Lock places the ball low and away from the defender, he allows Blanton to make a fantastic one-handed catch for a TD. Absolutely breathtaking ball placement.
Lock fits the profile as a modern day QB. He makes true NFL throws on a regular basis. He hits tight windows, throws contested balls, executes back shoulders in his sleep. It’s quite impressive.
In a game against the Georgia Bulldogs and their tenacious defense, Lock makes an excellent throw. Even with his WR Nate Brown covered well by CB Erick Stokes, Lock throws a well-timed back shoulder to his receiver. He places the ball where only his man can make a play on the ball, and it ends up a 15-yard reception.
One of the biggest takeaways with Lock and perhaps something most people overlook is how smart and decisive Lock has become. There are things you see only when you watch a Missouri game.
With Derek Dooley at the helm, Lock learned how to identify coverages and blitzes the way you expect elite NFL QBs to do. And more importantly, he understood how to make throws that manipulate the defense.
This one was awesome. Lock identifies the coverage, it’s a hybrid man-zone defense. That means the 2 outside receivers to Lock’s left are covered man to man, while the 4 linebackers and 2 safeties play zone coverage on the rest. The play calls for 4 go routes. Lock sees his no. 1 WR Jonathon Johnson matched up 1 on 1 with the slot corner, a huge mismatch.
Because of the nature of this coverage, the linebackers will let the two inside receivers go past them where the safeties will pick them up. Lock sees this and knows Johnson is about to dust his defender without any help over the top. Looking Johnson’s way the whole time, Lock launches the ball 45 yards down the field for a long, long TD. A beautiful read by Lock.
Drew Lock has all the traits of today’s NFL QBs. He has prototypical size at 6’4” 225 lbs. Lock is an excellent runner, he can escape out of the pocket and throw on the run at a prodigious rate. If not with his arm, Lock can burn you scrambling for the 1st down. It seems like he can do everything.
So What’s The Problem?
There’s a reason Drew Lock is not the consensus no. 1 QB. As Mahomes did, Lock also has his issues. In the past Lock’s decision making has been criticized severly, and rightfully so. He has a tendency to force balls instead of being patient. That being said, Lock has worked hard to clean up his mistakes, evident by his career-low 8 INTs in 2018.
My biggest issue with Lock is his pocket presence. Like we see with Mahomes so often, Lock has a tendency to continually backpedal and “fade away” when he throws, rather than step up in the pocket and deliver strikes. While Lock can usually fade away and still throw accurate passes, that’s not always the case (like Mahomes).
Lock generally gets away with his lack of pocket presence because of his supreme arm strength, but in this play, we see the errant pass that results from Lock’s lack of mechanics. Instead of standing in the pocket, the pass rush comes around the edge and Lock is hurried on his throw, leading a (rare) inaccurate pass. If Lock had stepped up in the pocket the pass rush would have never got to him.
Like many other QBs, Drew Lock simply just feels more comfortable when he can see everything in front of him. A lot of young QBs just need time to mature and improve their mechanics. Your ability to throw from the pocket in the NFL is vital.
Don’t Pass On The Kid
A lot of hype surrounding Dwayne Haskins as the no. 1 QB has surfaced recently, and rightfully so. After a tremendous season where Haskins dropped 50 TDs and almost 5000 yards, why wouldn’t he be talked about? Haskins is undoubtedly a tremendous player, but he doesn’t make NFL caliber throws and he crumbles under pressure. Haskins plays in a clean pocket 95% of the time at OSU, he won’t have that in the NFL.
In the 2017 NFL Draft, Mitchell Trubisky was the first QB drafted followed by Pat Mahomes. While Trubisky has become a solid QB, after 2 seasons we see who the better QB really is. Perhaps we see the same thing in the 2019 NFL Draft with Haskins swooped up before Lock.
Pat Mahomes came into the NFL with a lot of the same problems as Lock will. Decision making, pocket presence, and mechanics will need to be worked on before Lock blossoms into the star QB he’s destined to be. Mahomes essentially “redshirted” a year before taking the NFL by storm his 2nd year. A strategy that might benefit Lock as well.
Lock may not be the first QB drafted come April, but he will end up being the best. Every time you see Lock the way he goes about his game just screams “star!” He’s not a product of the system. In the tough SEC Lock plays legit competition on a weekly basis. Drew Lock is a self-made player. He’s smart, he’s talented, and most importantly, he’s up next.