A big question circling around this preseason camp has been “how much has Drew Lock improved since last year?”
Is he going to become the carefree, potent gunslinger of last fall camp, albeit with less hair to cloud up his helmet? Or has a year of taking the mental and physical anguish of a rough trip through the SEC with a supporting cast that wasn’t always the most...dependable?...taken a toll on him for the rest of his career?
Is he Jeff Bridges in The Fabulous Baker Boys? Or Jeff Bridges in the True Grit remake? I will accept no other movie analogues that do not involve Jeff Bridges.
There are all sorts of ways to poke at this issue. At 220 pounds, he’s got more strength and insulation. At a year older and wiser, he should be better able to deal with the mental rigors. After months of getting comfortable with Josh Heupel — a proven quarterback whisperer — he should be on the uptick.
But how do we quantify what that could mean for his sophomore year numbers? I don’t know. But we came up with an inelegant way to guess.
Drew Lock was an Elite 11 quarterback. As were hundreds of others since 1999, when the camp opened up.
We took Lock and 110 other Elite 11 quarterbacks since 2004 — back to the Chase Daniel camp — and plotted their stats over the course of their college careers to see what sort of improvement each made from year to year.
Then we applied the average improvement or regression of the group from year to year to Lock’s freshman numbers to try to plot the course for the rest of his Missouri career.
Yes, there are tons of problems with this. Mostly because it does not control for, like, any other variables. But it’s still kind of fun to see.
We plotted Lock’s career by rate and by bulk. So, say, by improvements in touchdown and interceptions percentage as well as total touchdowns and interceptions, for instance. We also did a “10 percent better” than the average group of estimates, because we’re optimists around here.
We also gave young Drew four different timelines for his future: one in which we plot him according to the rest of the 110 Elite 11 quarterbacks since 2004; one in which we separate him into a group of 22 of them that (like him) had more than 200 pass attempts as a true or redshirt freshman; one in which he put him down the shared path of Chase Daniel and Blaine Gabbert; and one in which we took his closest analogue of an Elite 11 quarterback based on freshman year numbers and sent him down that path.
Who it was may surprise AND ASTOUND you!!!!
Anyway, let’s get started. As always, I’m going to puke a spreadsheet at you and then rejoin you for discussion after. We’ll start with the darkest timeline and make our way to the most optimistic.
(Oh, and we did this with a lot of help from the College Football Reference website. We also included their “Adjusted Yards per Attempt” metric, which seems to reward touchdowns and punish interceptions. Don’t know exactly what it means, but it’s in there.)
Drew Lock as an Elite 11 Quarterback
The darkest timeline is the one in which we plot him compared to the entirety of his Elite 11 brethren from the past decade. Because, seemingly, for every Matthew Stafford, there are like 2.5 Brock Mansions.
Real person. Hilariously fake-sounding name. Cal must have picked him over Lance Uppercut.
As you can see (if you do some looking...), the average Elite 11 quarterback has made some modest improvements in his rate stats from his freshman to sophomore year. Completion percentage is up 4.47 percent, yards per attempt up 1.67, touchdown percentage up 6.87 percent and interception percentage down a more impressive 13.3 percent.
The bulk stats skyrocket, as mostly benchwarmers start to become backups, part-time starters or starters — completions, attempts, yards and touchdowns are all up more than 70 percent.
Where does that leave Lock? Well, not much better he was as a freshman. Just with more pass attempts.
In the passing by rate section, by the way, we took average attempts per game for all the quarterbacks, compared that with the freshman numbers, then applied the difference to Lock.
Then added 10 percent. Because we’re optimists.
Average: 193-of-376 (51.3%), 1934 yards (5.14 per), 6 TD, 10 INT, 94.5 rating
Optimistic: 212-of-376 (56.4%), 2126 yards (5.65 per), 7 TD, 9 INT, 105.2 rating
Average: 233-of-455 (51.2%), 2343 yards (5.15 per), 7 TD, 12 INT, 94.3 rating
Optimistic: 256-of-501 (51.1%), 2577 yards (5.14 per), 8 TD, 11 INT, 95.2 rating
Drew Lock as an Elite 11 Quarterback with a High-Attempt Freshman Year
This more select group saw more marked rate improvements from their freshman to sophomore years: completion percentage up 8.07 percent, yards per attempt up 2.21, touchdown percentage up 12.5 and interception percentage down 17.
The bulk stat increases aren’t as dramatic. Total attempts actually dip a little from freshman to sophomore. That’s to be expected when you start at 300 attempts rather than, say, three.
The thing I found kind of interesting about this group of quarterbacks (which we won’t really discuss because we’re just talking sophomore year here), is that the junior year is the best, then the ones who stick around dip a bit as seniors.
I guess that makes sense. The good ones go early to the draft. The mediocre ones stay and plateau.
Average: 153-of-289 (52.9%), 1495 yards (5.17 per), 5 TD, 7 INT, 97.3 rating
Optimistic: 182-of-313 (58.2%), 1780 yards (5.69 per), 6 TD, 7 INT, 107.8 rating
Average: 138-of-260 (53.1%), 1346 yards (5.18 per), 4 TD, 7 INT, 96.3 rating
Optimistic: 152-286 (51.2%), 1481 yards (5.18 per), 4 TD, 6 INT, 97.1 rating
Drew Lock as Juice Williams
Yes, Drew Lock is Juice Williams. They are one in the same. Except for, you know, not.
Williams had the closest numbers to Lock’s as a freshman in two pretty important categories.
Attempts: 261 vs. Lock’s 263. Rating: 91.9 vs. Lock’s 90.5.
So we took that as scientific proof and went with it. As all good scientists do.
Williams, like his other high-rep freshman brethren, built up to his junior year in passing numbers and then fell off a little as a senior. But, again, we’re just talking about sophomore years here.
From freshman to sophomore, Williams improved his completion percentage 45.2 percent, yards per attempt 14.4, touchdown percentage 41.2 and lowered his interception percentage by 30.3.
His completion percentage also started at an obscenely low place. Which means an obscenely high one for Lock when we apply Williams’ improvement to him.
Average: 192-of-269 (71.4%), 1557 yards (5.79 per), 6 TD, 6 INT, 122.9 rating
Optimistic: 195-of-248 (78.6%), 1580 yards (6.37 per), 6 TD, 5 INT, 136.1 rating
Average: 192-of-269 (71.4%), 1560 yards (5.80 per), 6 TD, 11 INT, 119.3 rating
Optimistic: 211-296 (71.3%), 1716 yards (5.80 per), 7 TD, 10 INT, 121 rating
Drew Lock as Chase Daniel and Blaine Gabbert
This is the silliest one. The one most based on nothing.
But it’s also the most optimistic so, hey, if that’s your sort of thing, then latch onto it.
Daniel and Gabbert went from backups to starters from freshman to sophomore year. Though Daniel got more use than Gabbert, neither of them touched Lock in terms of pass attempts their first year on campus.
So the improvements from freshman to sophomore year for those two are astronomical. To the point where we didn’t even do estimates by bulk because if you improved Lock’s freshman touchdown total by, say, the requisite, 5100 percent, you come up with 204 passing touchdowns for Drew Lock this year.
That ain’t happening. Unless...
This is how you make Lock a 30-touchdown guy as a sophomore. Turn him into Chase Daniel or Blaine Gabbert.
Hey, it’s happened before. Twice.
Average: 248-of-449 (55.2%), 3653 yards (8.14 per), 31 TD, 11 INT, 141.5 rating
Optimistic: 251-of-414 (60.6%), 3707 yards (8.95 per), 32 TD, 10 INT, 156.5 rating
Let’s not belabor this thought exercise any longer.
If Lock ends up with numbers approaching any of the ones posited above, it will be by sheer chance and not THE OVERWHELMING PRE-DESTINY OF MATHEMATICS!!!!
But I hope this at least got you thinking about the improvements similar quarterbacks to Lock have made from freshman to sophomore year over the past decade in a less abstract way than “he’s seeing the field really well.”
As a final gift, I’ll throw the 14 season stat lines I proposed in the body of this post together and come up with one single, unifying theory of Drew Lock, sophomore quarterback:
201-of-343 (58.6%), 2061 yards (6.01 per), 10 TD, 9 INT, 113.4 rating