With the way-too-early 2019 mock drafts flying, let Drew Lock's year in the spotlight begin
I’m going to advise you to do something at your own risk.
Google “2019 mock draft.” Click on as many as you can. Go ahead. I won’t tell your boss that you’ve gone down a large rabbit hole of way-too-early mock drafts. Just don’t announce each pick to the person in the cubicle across from you.
Well, if you did that, you’d probably find yourself saying “Drew Lock” a whole bunch of times. In fact, I searched the internet pretty thoroughly. Lock was in every mock draft that I could find from a credible website. I saw him picked everywhere from No. 4 overall to No. 32 overall (to the Patriots).
Barring an injury, Lock will enter the 2018 season with major first-round hype attached to him. He won’t get to be the “under the radar” quarterback who rises up draft boards in the final month of the season (like he did in 2017). Instead, Lock’s first-round projection means that he’ll be picked apart like Sam Darnold and Josh Rosen.
A 3-interception game? Yeah, that’s not first-round material. A selfish quote to the media? Yeah, that’s not first-round material. A decrease in production? Yeah, that’s not first-round material, either.
Lock’s draft projection will dominate the discussion every time he steps on the field.
That’s what being a consensus way-too-early mock draft first-round pick means.
Obviously Lock came back to school knowing that this was coming. Certainly the loaded crop of quarterbacks in the 2018 class played a part in him wanting to instead join the 2019 group. Already, the way-too-early mock drafts show why that might have been a smart move. Lock might have the least amount of question marks of his fellow projected first-round quarterbacks.
Jarrett Stidham plays in an extremely specialized offense, and a 29-to-17 sacks taken-to-touchdown passes ratio could probably use some improvement. Former Florida great Will Grier has to shake the notion that he plays against actual defenses in the Big 12 and that he doesn’t have any character concerns. Former Ole Miss great Shea Patterson has to play in an entirely new offense in an entirely new conference.
Lock has question marks, too. The biggest one is obviously how he’ll look in Derek Dooley’s offense. In other words, was Lock more a product of Josh Heupel’s system than a first-round quarterback? If his production dips — that’s almost a certainty after his 44-touchdown pass season — he’ll have to answer questions about that, too.
That, plus his intermediate accuracy will be his biggest areas to address. Still, I don’t think NFL scouts would be as concerned about Lock’s negatives as they would be for others because he might have the biggest arm of the bunch.
What that means, though, is that people are going to start searching for more weaknesses in Lock’s game. That’s how 21st century quarterback evaluations work. Now that Lock is on their radar, national pundits will tune in for a mid-September game against Purdue and base their entire Lock scouting report on that one afternoon.
He’s not at Alabama or Georgia, where the national championship dominates the conversation. He’s at Mizzou, where the national spotlight only shines so bright when a quarterback like Lock is ready for the the big time (at least now that the Tigers aren’t reaching SEC Championship games anymore). He’s going to be the story every week, regardless of who the Tigers are playing.
I’m eager to see how Lock approaches this. Will he hang tough like he usually does in the pocket (he only took 10 sacks while attempting 385 passes in the regular season) or will he crumble under pressure?
As much as Darnold and Rosen were picked apart, both survived their respective years in the spotlight and became top-10 picks. Other former way-too-early mock draft No. 1 selections like Matt Barkley and Christian Hackenberg didn’t survive that highly-anticipated pre-draft year. Well, didn’t thrive in that highly-anticipated pre-draft year.
We don’t know how Lock is going to roll with his ever-growing profile. Just gauging his attitude watching the spring game, he’s handling this increased attention like you’d want him to. The “I know I’m the man now” vibe is there, but it doesn’t look like overconfidence, nor does it look overwhelming. It’s spring, though. If Lock were cracking now, he wouldn’t have any chance to hold strong for the next year.
This will be more personal than Tom Herman mocking a touchdown celebration. Lock is now a household name. Every college football fan is going to know who Lock is, and because this is the world that we live in, they’re going to want to break him down.
Lock has a chance to rise above that and stay on this first-round path. All he has to do is look and act the part for the next 360 days.
Oh, and he should probably make sure he doesn’t have any offensive tweets from 6 years ago.