Around this time last year, your humble narrator undertook a bit of a thought experiment.
He took the freshman numbers from formerly swooshy-haired, currently open to drinking unknown liquids out of a thrown bottle in South Carolina quarterback Drew Lock of Missouri and tried to plot the numbers for the rest of his career with the Tigers.
We did so in a couple of different ways: by stacking him up with the other 110 quarterbacks who attended the Elite 11 camp — like him — from 2004 to 2014 to see how the FBS careers of those other elite quarterbacks progressed, then narrowed it down to a smaller group of high-attempt freshmen (like Lock), then a smaller group of other former Missouri quarterbacks that were Elite 11 (Blaine Gabbert and Chase Daniel), then the smallest group of the one Elite 11 dude whose freshman year numbers most closely mirrored Lock’s.
Juice Williams. Yes, Juice Williams.
Anywho, through all of that barely relevant stat crunching, we came up with unified estimate for Lock’s sophomore numbers during the 2016 season: 201-of-343 (58.6%), 2061 yards (6.01 per), 10 TD, 9 INT, 113.45 rating.
We all know what happened then. I ended up being absolutely correct.
Lock was all like “NAH LOLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL” and surpassed most of those numbers by, like, the fifth week of the season.
He ended up at 237-of-434 (54.6%), 3399 yards (7.83 per), 23 TD, 10 INT, 133.28 rating.
Is it too late now to say sorry? OK, well how about is it too late now to try the exact same thing that didn’t work last year again this year?
Yes? Well, too bad. I’m doing it anyway.
This time, though, we’ve got another year of data and a total of 121 Elite 11 quarterbacks from 2004 (the year Daniel went through the camp) through 2015 to draw from.
So what I’m going to do is, again, take Lock’s sophomore year numbers and plot him out against the rest of the Elite 11 QBs, then a smaller group of high-rep freshmen, then a smaller group of sophomores who — like him — had more than 200 attempts their freshman year and 400 their sophomore year, then against Gabbert and Daniel to see what we can maybe expect out of his this season and beyond.
Like last year, we plotted Lock’s career by rate and by bulk. So, say, by improvements in touchdown and interception percentage as well as total touchdowns and interceptions, for instance.
In the passing by rate sections, we took average attempts per game for all the quarterbacks, compared that with the sophomore numbers, then applied the difference to Lock.
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.
I think you’ll like the conclusions this year a lot better. I think I’ll like them, too:
Drew Lock as an Elite-11 Quarterback
So the 91 sophomores in the study get weeded out into 77 juniors and, as they do, their numbers keep improving.
Completion percentage ticks up 1.5 percent, yards per attempt up 2.75 percent, touchdown percentage up 7.89 percent, interception percentage down 5.86 percent and total QB rating up 3.30 percent. Bulk gains are even more impressive, with all the good ones (completions, attempts, yards, touchdowns) going up in the 28-38 percent range, while interceptions only go up 21 percent.
You will notice, though, that, for the 58 who make it to senior year, bulk stats go down significantly and rate stats tick up ever so slightly.
That’s what we in the business call a “plateau.”
But we’re not worried about that right now. We’re worried about Drew Lock’s junior season.
And, judging by the company he keeps, it could look a little something like this.
12 games — 279-of-504 (55.4%), 4055 yards (8.05 per), 29 TD, 11 INT, 137.56 rating
13 games — 303-of-546 (55.5%), 4393 yards (8.05 per), 31 TD, 12 INT, 137.42 rating
309-of-558 (55.4%), 4490 yards (8.05 per), 32 TD, 12 INT, 137.59 rating
Drew Lock as an Elite 11 Quarterback with a High-Attempt Freshman Year
The 21 sophomores who attempted more than 200 passes as a freshman or redshirt freshman make way to 16 juniors and nine seniors.
In that group, you see only a little increase in completion percentage (0.67 percent) from sophomore to junior year, but fairly sizable ones in yards per attempt (8.62 percent), touchdown percentage (17.5 percent), and even a little bit of a drop in interception percentage (1.28 percent), all for a 6.62-percent bump in rating.
The good bulk stats are all up in the 13-33 percent range, while interceptions are down 12 percent.
Again, all good things. Also again, like the wide swath of Elite 11 QBs as a whole, the numbers actually start to droop in the senior seasons (even though Jake Heaps is kind of ruining things for everyone here...), but we’re focused on Lock’s junior year right now.
As such, here’s what we get.
12 games — 233-of-424 (55.0%), 3606 yards (8.50 per), 26 TD, 10 INT, 141.91 rating
13 games — 253-of-460 (55.0%), 3912 yards (8.50 per), 29 TD, 10 INT, 142.89 rating
271-of-492 (55.1%), 4188 yards (8.51 per), 31 TD, 11 INT, 142.90 rating
Drew Lock and his 200/400 Elite-11 Brethren
Now we drill down even further. Here are the Nifty Nine who, like Lock, had more than 200 attempts as a freshman and more than 400 attempts as a sophomore.
That number becomes six by their junior year and only two — Oklahoma’s Landry Jones and Georgia’s Aaron Murray — by the senior year.
You know who was Jones’ QB coach with the Sooners? Current Missouri QB coach/offensive coordinator Josh Heupel.
Coincidence? Yeah, pretty much.
Anyway, this group of high early achievers follows the trend and improves into its junior year, dramatically so in most cases: completion percentage up 2.45 percent, yards per attempt up 12.8 percent, touchdown percentage up 19 percent, interception percentage down 20.5 percent, rating up 10 percent.
Which puts Lock right about at...
12 games — 219-of-391 (56.0%), 3453 yards (8.83 per), 25 TD, 7 INT, 147.71 rating
13 games — 237-of-424 (55.9%), 3745 yards (8.83 per), 27 TD, 8 INT, 147.33 rating
217-of-388 (55.9%), 3431 yards (8.84 per), 24 TD, 7 INT, 147.01 rating
Drew Lock as Chase Daniel and Blaine Gabbert
Finally we get to the #MizzouGrates category, the one with the other two Elite 11 QBs in the Tigers’ history: Chazz Daniels and Blake Galberts.
Even though this was the most optimistic timeline in last year’s study, this year it’s a little bit of a drag.
While the bulk numbers go up almost all across the board (except touchdowns), the rate numbers experience hits in all but completion percentage (up 7.82 percent).
If you want a good chuckle, check out how Daniel’s ballooning interception percentage as a senior would affect Lock’s senior pick number. Very rookie-year-Peyton-Manningesque.
12 games — 284-of-483 (58.8%), 3439 yards (7.12 per), 21 TD, 10 INT, 128.81 rating
13 games -- 308-of-523 (58.9%), 3724 yards (7.12 per), 23 TD, 11 INT, 129.01 rating
296-of-501 (59.1%), 3576 yards (7.14 per), 22 TD, 11 INT, 129.14 rating
Now, like last year, let’s must together all 12 projections and get a Unified Theory of 2017 Drew Lockingness.
267-of-475 (56.2%), 3834 yards (8.07 per), 27 TD, 10 INT, 138.56 rating
That would be about 3-percent increases in completion percentage and yards per attempt, a 7-percent increase in touchdown percentage, 8-percent decrease in interception percentage and a 4-percent raise in QB rating.
It would be the third-best, single-season passing total in Tigers history, the fourth-most passing touchdowns in a season, the 10th-most efficient and move Lock to third on Missouri’s career passing yards list (8565) and third on its career passing touchdowns list (54).
I think that would work, don’t you?