Matt Waldman shares a sample scouting report on Denver Broncos quarterback Drew Lock from the 2019 Rookie Scouting Portfolio.
Drew Lock, Missouri (6-4, 228)
Depth of Talent: 74.7 = Contributor: Starter execution in a limited role; diminishing returns beyond that scope.
An NFL team will select Lock much higher than I’ve graded him and because of specific talents he possesses, it may work out. However, it’s what he doesn’t do that’s of concern.
Bill Belichick often says he cares only about what a player can do and is less concerned about what he can’t do. The Waldman Corollary is, make sure what a player can do he does consistently or else you’ve bought into flash without substance.
Put that in your hoodie and pull it over your head, Bill.
Humor aside, Lock should be much better than he is but as noted in the Overrated Section of this chapter, he leans too much on talents that will grant him a professional opportunity. But Lock hasn’t cultivated the necessary details that will help him grow into a reliable or coveted
When an athletic defense motivates him, Lock can deliver a wide variety of drops—including one-, two-, three-, and five-steps with good tempo. He’ll set up with a balanced throwing stance, pivot quickly into position off play-action, and snap into place after the play fake.
Because he doesn’t sell the techniques with his upper body, Lock’s play fakes aren’t as thorough as they should be. Although he’s in a spread system and often works from pistol or shotgun, he demonstrates variety with his play fakes despite the constraints of the system. His bootleg fakes from pistol have the potential to be effective with more detail when selling it.
Like Finley, Lock has two types of pump fakes—the full-motion fake without violence and the minimal-motion fake with strong violence. Lock uses the pump fake liberally in his game, but its effectiveness has diminishing returns as the game unfolds because, once an opponent sees it play out a time or two, it lacks believability.
Lock executes the basic look-offs of safeties when setting up the deep game. He’s also skilled at holding flat defenders with his eyes to set up the short and intermediate passing game. He also has a strong hard count that can bait defenders into the neutral zone as well.
Pre-snap, Lock will spot pressure and correctly read the vulnerable man-to-man coverage behind it for a quick target.
Lock’s platform throws have an over-the-shoulder release that includes a quick motion. When throwing off-platform, Lock has a wide variety of arm slots to deliver the ball accurately—sometimes from impressive angles and covering the short, intermediate, and vertical ranges of the field with flashes of strong accuracy.
Lock has a strong arm and makes the opposite hash throws with ease. He can make them look easy even when pressure is bearing down on him. When forced off-platform, Lock also displays pinpoint accuracy in the intermediate zones despite pressure disrupting his release motion.
These skills, along with some touch on short throws, make him an effective thrower of screen passes and outlet passes to the flat while under pressure.
He’s fearless when it comes to targeting tight windows down-field and this includes high-velocity throws or long-distance touch throws. He displays anticipation with opposite-hash throws in the intermediate range of the field but must improve with the quick game anticipation to the shallower zones. On occasion, Lock can slide from pressure, reset his feet, and fire the ball with velocity and
accuracy in the intermediate range of the field.
Despite the pressure, Lock will maintain his patience and find the second read. He frequently looks beyond his first reads in the passing game. He’ll use his maneuverability to create space in or outside the pocket so he can access deeper ranges of the field, including receivers on the far side of the field.
Once he’s exhausted his reads or pressure pins him into a corner, Lock has shown the capability to throw the ball away. Unlike many prospects, Lock will note the coverage before he checks the ball to an outlet and if it’s well-covered he’ll throw it away. Too often, we see prospects make blind throws in these situations that lead to turnovers.
As a runner, Lock has better speed than it often appears because he often plays at a slower tempo than he should. When playing to the optimum tempo, he can reach the edge of the pocket, get outside the pursuit, and turn up the sideline for chain-moving gains.
Although he’s not a game-breaking runner, Lock’s acceleration is good enough that he can occasionally earn gains longer than 7-10 yards. When he sells the zone read effectively, he can drop his pads, split defenders with his acceleration, and earn positive gains through contact.
When he plays with crisp tempo, he’ll hitch from pressure, outrun pursuit to the edge and deliver accurately downfield. His pinpoint range includes a 59-yard throw to the sideline—an area of the field that’s really difficult to have this level of accuracy on a consistent basis.
Lock is one of the most capable and confident deep-ball throwers in this class. There are a significant number of deep throws with general and pinpoint accuracy ranging more than 50 yards in his portfolio of work. It’s this confidence in his arm talent that’s his greatest blessing and curse.
I’ve seen fleeting comparisons between Lock and Patrick Mahomes. The comparisons note similarities in arm talent and off-platform creativity. But making this comparison sells Mahomes short as a technician and a decisionmaker.
Lock’s accuracy with these plays only extends to the short zones. It’s pinpoint for the situation, but his technique and decision-making aren’t good enough to be mentioned in the same breath as Mahomes.
Lock’s confidence with making tight-window throws at every range of the field, and any platform, is hubris.
Lock ignores opportunities to exhaust the proper technique and tempo when it’s available for him to use. He’ll lean too much on slow drops with imprecise footwork, drifting away from pressure and throwing off-platform, and engaging in backyard directions to receivers with low-percentage outcomes.
When he’s sucked into this behavior, Lock will get too invested with red zone and third-down plays that he’s extended and risk sacks and turnovers. Occasionally, he’ll come up with a highlight-reel moment and this will sell some observers on his potential as a game-changing playmaker.
Lock’s ball security is careless. He’s especially lax with his technique and he’ll attempt to flip the ball to unprepared receivers. Combine this issue with Lock’s tendency to move much slower than he should in the pocket and it leads to unnecessary sacks and turnovers.
He retreats too often as the first move against interior pressure when he has room to flush. This also gets him in trouble.
Lazy behavior is an accurate way of characterizing his play. His drops, his reactions to pressure, and his mechanics on the move are rarely as crisp as they should be and it leads to general inaccuracy. He’s a streaky thrower who should be a consistently accurate one.
Lock reminds me of Jay Cutler and Jeff George. He’s capable of the amazing but lacks the discipline within his approach to the game to do the important mundane tasks well.
Pat Mahomes never showed this lack of discipline and regularly showed an understanding of the importance of learning and applying the finer details of playing the position. Lock has a long way to go to earn this comparison.
When the competition forces him, Lock will flash the necessary mechanical underpinnings to do quality work in every phase of the game. However, we’ve seen that these skills have to be built like a thermostat rather than a light switch.
If Lock figures out how to be a thermostat, he can be as good as any quarterback in this class. As for the idea of awarding Lock a selection earlier than the fourth round and an expectation to become a starter right away, I say, good luck.
Pre-NFL Draft Fantasy Advice: Lock’s dynasty value is the most variable of the quarterbacks. His draft-day selection by an NFL team will dictate where fantasy players take him. His best value will be as a fourth- or fifth-round pick, but he’s a player I’d prefer to buy and sell quickly when he generates the first, small amount of demand.
I hope he surprises me, but I won’t believe the puff pieces or training camp reports. I will need to see him on the field and for multiple games before I believe Lock has changed his approach to the game.
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