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What does history tell us to expect for Drew Lock’s 2018 season?

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It’s rare that a draft-eligible 40-TD QB returns for his senior season.

drew lock-2018-statistics-predictions-missouri-football
Lock decided to return after throwing for 44 touchdowns in his junior year.
Derrick Forsythe (Rock M Nation)

Whatever happens with Drew Lock in 2018, his senior year is already something of an anomaly.

Prior to Lock’s decision to return for his senior year, only four draft-eligible Power 5 quarterbacks have returned to their schools after throwing for at least 40 touchdowns. All four of those previous quarterbacks played in the Big 12.

As the chart below shows, Jason White (2003), Graham Harrell (2007), Sam Bradford (2008) and Baker Mayfield (2016) all threw for at least 40 touchdowns as a draft-eligible player and returned to school the following year.

There are some notes to go along with that, however. White received a sixth year of eligibility in order to return, and Bradford threw for 50 touchdowns as a redshirt sophomore in 2008; he returned in 2009 but only played in three games before a season-ending knee injury.

Bradford declared for the draft following his injury-shortened redshirt-junior year.

Draft-eligible Power 5 quarterbacks who have thrown for 40-plus TDs in their final collegiate seasons is a short list as well:

  • Marcus Mariota, 2015 (Round 1, Pick 2)
  • Jared Goff, 2015 (Round 1, Pick 1)
  • Patrick Mahomes, 2016 (Round 1, Pick 10)
  • Deshaun Watson, 2016 (Round 1, Pick 12)

The first 40 passing touchdown year came in 1980 by Jim McMahon; since then, there have been 17 total 40 passing TD years by a player who returned for another season (either by choice or because they were not draft eligible).

The chart below details each season, and what the quarterback did in the subsequent season.

Italics indicate a player was not draft-eligible. Bold indicates a player from a Power 5 conference. Because Sam Bradford and Case Keenum’s ensuing seasons were shortened by injuries, their stats were not factored into the averages.

40+ TD QBs who returned for another season

Player Year (Record) TDs INTs Rating Year (Record) TDs INTs Rating
Player Year (Record) TDs INTs Rating Year (Record) TDs INTs Rating
Jim McMahon, BYU 1980 (12-1) 47 18 176.9 1981 (11-2) 30 7 155
Ty Detmer, BYU 1990 (10-3) 41 28 155.9 1991 (8-3-2) 35 12 168.5
David Klingler, Houston 1990 (10-1) 54 20 146.8 1991 (4-7) 29 17 125.6
Chad Pennington, Marshall 1997 (10-3) 42 12 150.4 1998 (12-1) 28 7 152.9
Tim Rattay, Louisian Tech 1998 (6-6) 46 13 164.8 1999 (8-3) 35 12 147.9
Jason White, Oklahoma 2003 (12-2) 40 10 158.1 2004 (12-1) 35 9 159.4
Omar Jacobs, Bowling Green 2004 (9-3) 41 4 167.2 2005 (6-5) 26 7 150.9
Colt Brennan, Hawaii 2006 (11-3) 58 12 186 2008 (12-1) 38 17 159.8
Graham Harrell, Texas Tech 2007 (9-4) 48 14 157.3 2008 (11-2) 45 9 160
Sam Bradford, Oklahoma 2008 (12-2) 50 8 180.8 2009 (8-5) 2 0 134.5
Case Keenum, Houston 2008 (8-5) 44 11 160.02 2009 (10-4) 44 15 154.56
Case Keenum, Houston 2009 (10-4) 44 15 154.8 2010 (5-7) 5 5 159.3
Jameis Winston, FSU 2013 (14-0) 40 10 184.85 2014 (13-1) 25 18 154.56
Brandon Doughty, Western Kentucky 2014 (8-5) 49 10 167.11 2015 (12-2) 48 9 176.48
Logan Woodside, Toledo 2016 (9-4) 45 9 183.34 2017 (11-3) 28 8 162.16
Jake Browning, Washington 2016 (12-2) 43 9 167.52 2017 (10-3) 19 5 152.1
Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma 2016 (11-2) 40 8 196.38 2017 (12-2) 43 6 198.92
Averages 10.2-2.9 45.4 12.4 168.13 10.1-2.7 33.9 10.5 158.58

While the historical averages don’t have any direct correlation to what Drew Lock will do in 2018, it’s interesting to see that, across the board, ttouchdowns fell in the ensuing year after a 40 TD-season — and by a significant margin.

On average, a quarterback threw for 12 fewer touchdowns in the year following a 40-touchdown season; only thrice has a quarterback thrown for at least 40 touchdowns in back-to-back years (Graham Harrell, Case Keenum, Baker Mayfield).

The quarterbacks were also more protective of the ball, however, throwing an average of two fewer interceptions per season. Only in four of the 15 seasons (not counting those injury-shortened years by Keenum and Bradford) did a quarterback throw more interceptions the year following a 40-touchdown season.

Quarterbacks were slightly less efficient in terms of rating; in nine of the 15 ensuing seasons the quarterbacks had a worse passer rating. However, the average being 10 points less is not that drastic of a change in terms of rating.

Again, none of this has a direct impact on Lock. The biggest factor will be how he develops to a more pro-style offense under Derek Dooley, and which receivers step up to replace J’Mon Moore — in addition to a more difficult schedule.

However, if we’re taking these averages above and applying them to Drew Lock’s 2017 season, you can anticipate Lock throwing for 33 touchdowns, 12 interceptions with a 156.25 passer rating in 2018.

I think most fans would be happy with a solid follow-up performance like that, especially if Missouri’s ground game lives up to its potential and the defense performs consistently.