Matt Waldman’s RSP contributor Mark Schofield does not like player comparisons but when asked to do so, he has a whopper of one for quarterback Drew Lock.
Our perceptions of the unfamiliar are often shaped, for better or worse, by the worlds of art, literature, and the twin pillars of the big and small screen. If we lack our own experiences with something, whether a place, a person or anything else, we draw on other means to form our ideas and shape our understanding.
Take, for example, law school. For those who have never attended first, congratulations on a wise choice, but second, your perceptions of law school are likely shaped by movies and literature, unless you know someone who went through that process. Those of an older generation likely picture “The Paper Chase” and One L, by Scott Turow. If you fit into that category, then you probably have an image in your mind of an older, cantankerous professor standing in front of a lecture hall, thundering away at a collection of timid and terrified students. A professor relying upon the Socratic Method to put students on the spot, forcing them to stand and recite from memory arcane aspects of case law and using sharp, pointed criticism to illustrate for the rest of the group even the smallest of mistakes.
The law school I attended did little to dissuade us of that image prior to our orientation week. Both “The Paper Chase” and One L were assigned to us for summer reading/viewing prior to our first week of school, and during our first orientation session the bulk of our class was assembled in a large lecture hall to participate in our first “class,” where we would simulate a class discussion based on a case we were all assigned to read the night before. The class was going to be our first taste of what was ahead of us, we were told.
Imagine our horror when the professor standing in front of us called on a student in the back. The case we were assigned was…well, to be honest, I do not remember. But it involved wood. Because before long the professor was ridiculing this student for not researching the type of wood involved, the properties of that wood, whether the wood would be more or less susceptible to rot than other kinds of wood, and all sorts of probing questions that convinced the group that yes, the rumors were real. Those depictions in art were real. Law school was going to be a horror show.
Of course, it was staged. It was a ruse. The “student” was really a second-year student at the school and the exercise was to demonstrate that this would not be the law school experience. But believe me, I remember those ten minutes better than almost anything else from law school, save for the moment I first saw a classmate—in that same large lecture hall—who would years later agree to marry me. But that’s a story for another time.
Fast forward a few months to the end of the first semester, and the end of my Contracts class. The class was held in that same large lecture hall, with approximately 120 students, and it was the bigger of the two contracts classes that semester. Our professor spoke with a heavy, thick accent. It was so thick that it took us a few weeks to ascertain whether he was saying “agreement” or “argument.”
For those wondering why that might matter, in a class centered upon the formation of contracts (or agreements) and disputes over them (i.e., arguments) it was a pretty important distinction. At the conclusion of the final class, the assembled students gave the customary round of applause to thank the professor for their efforts, and after a few moments he held up his hands and said something I’ll never forget:
“Just so you all know, I did not like this class.”
He went on to let us know that what he meant was that he did not like the size of the class, because in the large lecture hall format he found it difficult to get his points across and to connect with all of us. But he was given this assignment, so he carried it out the best he could, despite not liking what he was asked to do.
All of this is a long buildup to the twin pillars of draft time media: Mock drafts and comparisons.
Just so you all know, I do not like them.
But, like my contracts professor, if given the assignment I will try and carry it out. However, specifically with respect to comps, I have found that they are an art form that I just flat out am not good at. Everyone loves the sort of one-to-one comparison that a player comp provides, but when it comes to quarterbacks that might just not be possible.
There are so many factors that go into playing the position that a better route, at least in my mind, is to make a number of different comparisons: Mental comparisons, playing style comparisons, athletic profiles, size profiles, and on down the line. But by the time you get to the end, you’ve lost the allure of a single name to associate with the prospect, and your editor is wondering why they even gave you this assignment in the first place.
A kind of comparison I do like putting together is when two different quarterbacks face the same puzzle. For example, a few years back I wrote a piece comparing Carson Wentz to Christian Hackenberg. In his first start for North Dakota State, Wentz correctly spotted a weakside defensive end dropping off the line of scrimmage and immediately came off the route he was going to throw to that area of the field. That same year Hackenberg, who was not making his first start, saw the same look and a similar route concept against Temple University, and he threw it right to the dropping defensive end for a Pick Six.
Yet sometimes, comparisons are obvious in a sense and do fit. One such example this season is between Drew Lock and Josh Allen. Now, they are different quarterbacks and have different strengths and weaknesses, but one thing that is common between them is confidence in their right arm. Both players have been blessed with tremendous arm talent, but as we are about to see in this video, for both players it is a bit of a double-edged sword. First, we can revisit this video I put together earlier this season on Allen:
Now, here are some similar examples from Lock:
Now, as I have opined on here and in other places, Allen’s relative success as a rookie – at least when contrasted with my expectations of him pre- and post-draft, does have me rethinking the importance of arm talent, and velocity in particular. Which is part of the reason that I am still relatively high on Lock for the most part. That does not change the fact, however, that his reliance on the arm has been an issue for him in the past, and we can anticipate being an issue for him in the future. When put under the harsh scrutiny of life in the NFL, will that arm stand up to the blistering questions that defenses will put in front of him, or will he crumble?
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