clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

How much better was Drew Lock in 2017?

New, 13 comments

As Missouri’s quarterback weighs his draft prospects, let’s take a look at how far he’s come.

NCAA Football: Missouri at Arkansas
Drew Lock was better against good defenses in 2017 than he was in 2016 but about the same against bad ones. Is that good enough to leave a year early?
Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

Drew Lock led the FBS in touchdown passes this season. He finished 10th in passing yards per game, fifth in passer rating and fourth in yards per attempt.

Drew Lock was a much-improved quarterback in 2017 over 2016.

How much improved? Very much improved.

OK, ladies and gents, thanks for reading.

.....

Seriously though, it wouldn’t be a piece of mine if I didn’t spend 4 million words and 800 spreadsheet tabs to tell you something I could’ve told you into a sentence.

SO LET’S GET INTO IT!!!!!

vs. Everyone

Totals
2017: 242-of-419 (57.8%), 3964 yards (9.46/attempt), 44 TD, 13 INT, 165.67 rating
2016: 237-of-434 (54.6%), 3399 yards (7.83/attempt), 23 TD, 10 INT, 133.28 rating

Per Game
2017: 18.6-of-32.2, 304.9 yards, 3.38 TD (10.5%), 1.00 INT (3.10%)
2016: 19.8-of-36.2, 283.3 yards, 1.92 TD (5.30%), 0.83 INT (2.30%)

So, in four fewer attempts per game, Lock completed only 1.2 fewer passes per game, for a bump of 5.77 percent (or 3.2 percentage points) in completion percentage. Yards per game went up by 7.65 percent, while yards per attempt went up 20.8 percent.

Touchdown percentage (percent of throws on which he threw a touchdown) almost doubled, while total touchdowns also went up 76.6 percent. He was a little more careless with the ball as well, though, as interceptions went up 20 percent in bulk and 34.7 percent in percentage.

Rating went up 24.3 percent.

Using the rate stats that are most important here for the whole body of work (completion percentage, yards per attempt, touchdown percentage, interception percentage and rating) and mashing them up and holding them equal (which is problematic...but not enough for me to care in this meaningless thought exercise!), we come out to about 23 percent better in 2017 than 2016.

“Yeah, but doesn’t he just pad his stats against lesser opponents?” one might ask.

Well, let’s see about that...

————-

vs. Power-5 Opponents

Totals
2017: 167-of-315 (53.0%), 2599 yards (8.25/attempt), 26 TD, 11 INT, 142.58 rating
2016: 167-of-321 (52.0%), 2266 yards (7.06/attempt), 11 TD, 10 INT, 116.40 rating

Per Game
2017: 16.7-of-31.5, 259.9 yards, 2.60 TD (8.25%), 1.10 INT (3.49%)
2016: 18.6-of-35.7, 251.8 yards, 1.22 TD (3.43%), 1.11 INT (3.12%)

Isn’t it weird that Lock had the exact same number of completions and only five fewer attempts against Power-5 teams this year, in one more game?

No? Get on with it and stop wasting our time? OK.

Completion percentage went up barely (1.90 percent), yards per game was up 3.23 percent and yards per pass up a more noteworthy 16.9 percent.

Touchdowns were, again, through the roof, going up 113 percent in bulk and 140 percent in rate. Interceptions were down, barely, in bulk, but up 12.1 percent in rate, given those 4.2 fewer attempts per game. Rating was up 22.5 percent.

Using the same method we used above, we can haphazardly say that Lock was about 34 percent better against Power-5 competition in 2017 than he was in 2016.

“OK, we get it, you like the sound of your own fingers on a keyboard,” an astute observer might conclude, “but all pass defenses — even ones in the Power-5 -- aren’t created equal. What say you to that, knave?”

Man, you just won’t quit, will you?

—————

vs. Everyone (Halved by Pass Defense Ranking)

Totals vs. “Good” Defenses
2017: 98-of-182 (53.8%), 1633 yards (8.97/attempt), 20 TD, 6 INT, 158.89 rating
2016: 88-of-176 (50.0%), 1204 yards (6.84/attempt), 5 TD, 10 INT, 105.48 rating

Per Game
2017: 16.3-of-30.3, 272.2 yards, 3.33 TD (11.0%), 1.00 INT (3.30%)
2016: 17.6-of-35.2, 240.8 yards, 1.00 TD (2.84%), 2.00 INT (5.68%)

Totals vs. “Bad” Defenses
2017: 144-of-237 (60.8%), 2331 yards (9.84/attempt), 24 TD, 7 INT, 170.89 rating
2016: 149-of-258 (57.8%), 2195 yards (8.51/attempt), 18 TD, 0 INT, 152.24 rating

Per Game
2017: 20.6-of-33.9, 333.0 yards, 3.43 TD (10.1%), 1.00 INT (2.95%)
2016: 21.3-of-36.9, 313.6 yards, 2.57 TD (6.98%), 0.00 INT (0.00%)

Here’s how I determined “good” and “bad.” Took the FBS rank of each pass defense Missouri faced each season (except for the FCS teams...obvs...) in yards against per game, yards per attempt against and rating against and added them together.

Got an average. Teams above that average were “good.” Teams below that average were “bad.”

The average 2017 pass defense that faced Missouri ranked 62nd in yards, 67th in average and 66th in rating, for a total of 195.

The average 2016 pass defense ranked 58th, 52nd and 49th, for a total of 159.

For 2017, it broke down thusly
Good — Georgia, Auburn, Tennessee, South Carolina, Vanderbilt, Idaho
Bad — Florida, Purdue, Texas, Kentucky, Arkansas, Connecticut, Missouri State

For 2016, it broke down thusly
Good — Florida, LSU, Georgia, South Carolina, Tennessee
Bad — Middle Tennessee, West Virginia, Vanderbilt, Kentucky, Arkansas, Eastern Michigan, Delaware State

Against “good” teams, Lock’s completion percentage went up 7.69 percent, yards per game up 13, yards per attempt up 31.2, touchdown percentage up 286.8 PERCENT (yowza) and interception percentage down 42 percent. Rating went up 50.6 percent.

So let’s say Lock ended up being about 84 percent better against “good” teams this year.

Now, to the “bad” teams. Completion percentage was up 5.21 percent, yards per game up 6.20, per attempt up 15.6, touchdown percentage up 45 percent and interception percentage up...incalculably. Since Lock didn’t throw any interceptions against “bad” teams in 2016, then threw seven this year. Rating was up 12.2 percent.

This submarines my whole “Lock was XX percent better” convention. So now I’m sad. But I remember this is all for fun and games anyway, so I just excise that factor from my calculations and say with not great certainty that Lock was about less than 19.5 percent better against “bad” teams in 2017 than he was in 2016.

The more interesting thing for me here, though, is the gulf in performance against “good” and “bad” teams. You’d, ideally, want that to be zero. You’d want Lock blowing everyone up equally, right?

Well, he got better at that in 2017. His completion percentage went down 11.4 percent against “good” teams from “bad” teams in 2017, as opposed to down 13.4 percent in 2016. Yards per game went down 18.3 percent as opposed to 23.2 in 2016, yards per attempt went down 8.77 as opposed to 19.6, and touchdown percentage actually went up 8.52 percent as opposed to down 59.3 percent in 2016. Rating dipped only 7.02 percent against “good” teams, as opposed to 30.7 percent in 2016.

So Lock still played a little worse against “good” defenses than “bad” ones this year -- as is to be expected — but the gulf wasn’t as wide.

“Alright,” one might say, “but one year’s 67th ranked passing defense could be wildly different than the next year’s. And you said yourself that the pass defenses Missouri faced in 2016 were, on average, better than the ones they faced in 2017. How do you account for that?”

Yeesh...

—————

Opponents’ Per-Game Averages vs. Other FBS Teams

Overall
2017: 18.2-of-30.7 (59.2%), 221.2 yards (7.20/attempt), 1.39 TD (4.53%), 0.76 INT (2.48 %), 129.58 rating
2016: 18.1-of-31.3 (58.1%), 219.0 yards (7.01/attempt), 1.37 TD (4.39%), 0.91 INT (2.91%), 125.58 rating

“Good” Defenses
2017: 17.1-of-29.7 (57.7%), 191.6 yards (6.46/attempt), 1.06 TD (3.57%), 0.65 INT (2.18 %), 119.43 rating
2016: 16.0-of-28.7 (55.9%), 190.2 yards (6.64/attempt), 1.09 TD (3.82%), 0.95 INT (3.30%), 117.60 rating

“Bad” Defenses
2017: 19.2-of-31.8 (60.5%), 250.8 yards (7.88/attempt), 1.72 TD (5.42%), 0.88 INT (2.76 %), 139.05 rating
2016: 19.9-of-33.4 (59.6%), 243.0 yards (7.27/attempt), 1.61 TD (4.81%), 0.88 INT (2.63%), 131.28 rating

So the pass defenses Missouri faced in 2016 were, all around, better than the ones the Tigers faced in 2017: overall, “good” and “bad.”

Lock did perform better against the 2017 defenses, though, relative to all the other teams they faced.

Completion percentage was only 2.96 percent down in 2017, as opposed to 8.68 in 2016. Yards per game up 29.7 percent, opposed to up 24.4. Yards per attempt up 24.3 percent versus 7.49 percent. Touchdown percentage up 112.3 percent as opposed to 2.94 percent, but interception percent 25.7 percent higher as opposed to 13.6 percent lower last year. Rating was up 21.9 percent as opposed to 0.47 percent last year.

So, on the whole, Lock was about a 3 percent better quarterback than the rest of the guys his 2016 opponents had seen all year. In 2017, that number went up to about 26 percent better.

Against “good” defenses, 2016 Drew Lock was about 23 percent worse than the other quarterbacks they saw. 2017 Drew Lock was about 44 percent better.

2016 “bad” defenses saw a Drew Lock that was about 27 percent better than the norm. 2017 “bad” defenses saw a Lock that was about 15 percent better.

Big increase against “good” defenses. Plateau against “bad” ones.

“OK, idiot,” one might say, “but Idaho is one of your quote-unquote ‘good’ defenses. That’s dumb. Power-5 teams are the only ones that matter anyway.”

grumblegrumblegrumblegrumble

—————

vs. Power-5 (Halved by Pass Defense Ranking)

Totals vs. “Good” Defenses
2017: 80-of-144 (55.6%), 1159 yards (8.05/attempt), 14 TD, 6 INT, 146.91 rating
2016: 67-of-133 (50.4%), 884 yards (6.65/attempt), 4 TD, 8 INT, 104.10 rating

Per Game
2017: 16.0-of-28.8, 231.8 yards, 2.80 TD (9.72%), 1.20 INT (4.17%)
2016: 16.8-of-33.3, 221.0 yards, 1.00 TD (3.01%), 2.00 INT (6.02%)

Totals vs. “Bad” Defenses
2017: 87-of-171 (50.9%), 1440 yards (8.42/attempt), 12 TD, 5 INT, 138.92 rating
2016: 100-of-188 (53.2%), 1382 yards (7.35/attempt), 7 TD, 2 INT, 125.10 rating

Per Game
2017: 17.4-of-34.2, 288.0 yards, 2.40 TD (7.02%), 1.00 INT (2.92%)
2016: 20.0-of-37.6, 276.4 yards, 1.40 TD (3.72%), 0.40 INT (1.06%)

I did “good” and “bad” basically the same way I did it for the overall distinctions, except this time I factored in only stats against Power-5 teams and rankings among Power-5 teams (and Notre Dame, making 65 teams total for the rankings).

The average 2017 pass defense that faced Missouri ranked 28th in yards, 37th in average and 36th in rating among the 65 Power-5 teams, for a total of 100.

The average 2016 pass defense ranked 22nd, 31st and 27th, for a total of 80.

For 2017, it broke down thusly
Good — Georgia, Auburn, South Carolina, Tennessee, Florida
Bad — Purdue, Vanderbilt, Texas, Kentucky, Arkansas

For 2016, it broke down thusly
Good — Florida, LSU, South Carolina, Georgia
Bad — West Virginia, Vanderbilt, Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas

Against “good” Power-5 teams, Lock’s completion percentage went up 10.3 percent, yards up 4.89 and per-attempt average up 21.1. TD percent went up 223.3 percent, INT percent went down 30.7 percent and rating went up 41.1 percent.

All in all, Lock was about 65 percent better against “good” Power-5 defenses in 2017 than he was in 2016.

Against “bad” teams, completion percentage was down 4.35 percent, yards up 4.2, average attempt up 14.6, TD percent up 88.5, INT percent up 174.9 PERCENT (again...yowza), and rating up 11.1 percent.

Lock was about 13 percent worse against “bad” Power-5 defenses in 2017 than he was in 2016. The egg laid against Purdue had a lot of say in that.

When it came to the gulf in performances against “good” and “bad” Power-5 teams, completion percentage went up 9.2 percent in 2017 as opposed to a 5.29 percent drop in 2016, yards per attempt went down 4.42 percent as opposed to 9.58, TD percent went up 38.5 as opposed to a drop of 19.2, INT percent went up 42.5 percent as opposed to a whopping 465.4 percent in 2016, and rating went up 5.75 percent as opposed to a 16.8-percent drop in 2016.

“I stopped paying attention like three hours ago,” one might say. “Just do whatever to finish it up.”

And I shall...

—————

Power-5 Opponents’ Per-Game Averages vs. Other Power-5 Teams

Overall
2017: 17.3-of-29.7 (58.3%), 212.7 yards (7.16/attempt), 1.33 TD (4.48%), 0.78 INT (2.62 %), 128.00 rating
2016: 16.6-of-29.1 (57.1%), 207.4 yards (7.14/attempt), 1.25 TD (4.31%), 0.80 INT (2.74%), 125.78 rating

“Good” Defenses
2017: 16.1-of-28.9 (55.8%), 188.4 yards (6.51/attempt), 1.13 TD (3.90%), 0.74INT (2.57 %), 118.20 rating
2016: 14.6-of-26.7 (54.4%), 175.1 yards (6.55/attempt), 1.00 TD (3.74%), 0.95 INT (3.54%), 114.70 rating

“Bad” Defenses
2017: 18.5-of-30.5 (60.7%), 237.0 yards (7.78/attempt), 1.53 TD (5.03%), 0.81 INT (2.66 %), 137.31 rating
2016: 18.2-of-30.9 (58.9%), 233.4 yards (7.55/attempt), 1.46 TD (4.71%), 0.68 INT (2.18%), 133.49 rating

Again: the 2016 pass defenses were better than the 2017 pass defenses Missouri faced, even when you filter out the non-Power 5 factors.

Lock’s completion percentage was about the same amount under the Power-5 norm for these defenses in 2017 as 2016 (9.06 percent under vs. 8.81 under), as were his yards per game (22.2 percent over vs. 21.4 percent over). Yards per attempt, though, were 15.2 percent over versus 2016’s 1.13 percent under, TD percent was 84.4 over versus 20.6 percent under, INT percent was inflated to 33.4 percent over as opposed to 13.7 percent over, and rating was 11.4 percent over as opposed to 7.46 percent under.

So, on the whole, Lock was about a 10 percent worse quarterback than the rest of the Power-5 guys his 2016 opponents had seen all year. In 2017, that number went up to about 14 percent better.

Against “good” Power-5 defenses, 2016 Drew Lock was about 21 percent worse than the other quarterbacks they saw. 2017 Drew Lock was about 27 percent better.

2016 “bad” Power-5 defenses saw a Drew Lock that was about 5 percent worse than the norm. 2017 “bad” defenses saw a Lock that was about 5 percent better.

Again: pretty good improvement against “good” defenses. Not that much against “bad” ones.


So Lock’s still an inefficient passer, but getting a little better. He’s more prolific in home run balls, as evidenced by the spikes in per-attempt average and touchdown percentage, and he’s also a little more careless with the ball.

The criticism that he only plays good against bad defenses doesn’t really hold up anymore. He played a lot better against good defenses in 2017 than he did in 2016. But he also started playing down to bad defenses a little bit.

And I still think he should come back for another year, but nobody asked me. Ever. About anything.

If you want to see my work...may the lord have mercy on your soul: