As we have seen over the last few years, quarterbacks have a way of going high in the NFL draft if they have strong traits. Because of the way the college game is played, especially at the quarterback position, many NFL clubs look at the player’s raw traits instead of what the player is asked to do in his college offense. Obviously that makes for a bit of a gamble, but clubs have to find a way to find a quarterback and so they gamble on the upside.
In the 2018 NFL draft, five quarterbacks were selected in the first round. It’s way too early to say how many will go in Round 1 next April, but we can begin to look at the players who will be under consideration.
I have always felt that in order to evaluate a quarterback correctly we have to look at tape over a two-year period. That includes at least eight or nine games in the player’s final season and five or six games form the previous year. That way you get a string idea of not only how he plays but how he has progresses form one year to the next.
In these early write-ups I will be just touching on things, as I don’t want to go to in depth until I see how each quarterback plays this fall. First up is Missouri quarterback Drew Lock.
Lock will be a fourth-year senior in 2018 and has been a starter since early in his true freshman year. Lock hasn’t had a lot of success as far as winning, as Mizzou plays in the SEC and often doesn’t have to overall talent that many other schools in the conference have. Last season was the first time in Lock’s career that Mizzou finished with a winning record (7-6).
Physically, Lock has ideal NFL size at about 6-foot-4 and 225 pounds. He is athletic and can extend plays and make some plays with his feet, but his overall athleticism and speed is good not great. He isn’t about to remind anyone of Lamar Jackson when they look at Lock as an athlete.
There is no question that Lock has arm talent. He can put some zip on his passes and throws a tight ball. The concern I have is accuracy. In 2015, he completed only 49.0 percent of his throws. In 2016, he improved to 54.6 percent. Last year, that number rose to 58.2 percent.
Yes, he has improved each year, but in that offense — Mizzou will be switching schemes this year — he needed to be at 62 or 63 percent minimum. Granted, he has had a lot of passes dropped, but even if the drops were completions, his completion percentage still wouldn’t be good enough.
Clubs usually stay away from inaccurate passers high in the draft, but in 2018 both Wyoming’s Josh Allen and Louisville’s Lamar Jackson were sub-60 percent passers and they got selected in the first round. It remains to be seen how those two will do in the NFL, but history has shown us that inaccurate passers in college don’t typically become accurate in the NFL.
Although Lock’s accuracy needs to improve, he does a fairly decent job protecting the ball. Last year he threw 12 interceptions, and in 2016 he threw only 10. I would like to see him get that number into single digits this season.
I like Lock’s mechanics, he has a tight delivery and for the most part he shows a quick delivery. He needs to improve with his decision making as he will throw into tight coverage at times. The Mizzou offense had a lot of half-field reads under former offensive coordinator Josh Huepel, but we can’t fault Lock for that; he has no say in the offense he plays in.
That said, scouts have to learn how quickly he learns, understands and retains the offense and how quickly he can process. With quarterbacks, intangibles are just as important as the physical traits. It’s imperative that he be a hard worker, has a strong passion for the game and is a leader. Without those intangible traits, success is hard to find.
It also will be interesting to see how the offense evolves and how Lock adjusts to the system that’s being run this season by new offensive coordinator Derek Dooley, who spent the past few seasons as a wide receivers coach with the Dallas Cowboys, after Heupel left to take the UCF head-coaching job.
When the 2018 college season begins in September, we will be looking for Lock to improve in all phases. This will be his fourth year as a starter so he has a lot of experience. If his accuracy and decision making improve and he continues to put up big numbers, he has a very good chance of being drafted high. Lock is a talented player, but I feel he has only scratched the surface of how good he can and will become. Once we get about midway through the 2018 season, I’ll update my feelings on Lock and the others I write up early.