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Rookie Spotlight - Drew Lock

As we often have said on the RotoBaller afternoon show on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio, mock drafts prior to the NFL Draft are just exercises full of swings and misses. They are fun, but so many end up being wildly incorrect. Experts and analysts often tab who they think teams should logically pick, and as we have so frequently seen, logic often goes by the wayside during the actual NFL Draft.

I had my own mock ideas, especially when it came to the QBs. I saw Missouri’s Drew Lock as a first rounder. While I never believe all the rumors that come out, especially closer to draft time, it made sense to me when it was reported that John Elway was really hot on Lock. The Broncos had the 10th pick overall and Joe Flacco is obviously a stopgap.

Once Denver’s first round and initial second-round picks came and went, I was somewhat surprised Lock did not go in the first round, and that Denver passed on him twice. But then, right after their second-round selection at No. 41 overall, the rumors turned into truth. The Broncos traded up to the 42nd spot and took Lock with their third selection of the 2019 NFL Draft. Their luck could have not turned out any better. They had actually traded down from the 10th spot, passed twice on Lock and still landed him. Should dynasty owners take the same approach or is he a QB to target earlier in dynasty drafts?

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Closest Comps

Lock has drawn pro comparisons to Jay Cutler, Matthew Stafford and even Patrick Mahomes. Those observations reflect the wide range of expectations for him. He could turn into an erratic disappointment (Cutler), a respectable but not superstar passer (Stafford), or an instant standout (Mahomes).

I’m betting on somewhere between the second and third comparisons. I really like what I see of Lock on film, most notably the way he throws a very strong and pinpoint deep ball when he is on his game. The ball absolutely launches out of his hand like it has blasted off, and then lands into the receiver’s window right in stride, allowing for an ideal catch with potential for more yardage thereafter.

I find myself wanting to watch more and more of Lock’s downfield throws, because I find them so tantalizing. He has real gunslinger potential and I think he has a lot of promise in fantasy formats that reward extra points for longer TD passes. I play in one of those, and I see Lock as a future standout in that league.

Lock has the desired size and terrific arm strength that made him so appealing coming out of school. He has a very quick release that sometimes makes the ball seem like it was propelled by a slingshot. He is not afraid to challenge defenses with deep balls and he often makes quick reads and decisions. He is also mobile and can make plays on the move.


Tangible Risks

But many analysts believe Lock is still a work in progress, and he must refine significant parts of his game before he becomes a dependable pro starter, and by extension, a quality fantasy player. The prime knocks on him are that he is not consistently accurate and efficient. He has also not played well against top opponents in college, which could be a real worry as he elevates to the NFL level. He may not be a regularly reliable passer on high percentage throws.

Those type of scouting reports make it seem like Lock can make the splash play, but will have trouble building consistent drives on offense. If those are widely held beliefs among NFL scouts and front office types, you can see why he slipped to the second round. Many fans and analysts have roundly mocked and criticized the Giants’ choice to make Daniel Jones the second QB picked this year, but he looks very capable of operating a high percentage passing game early in his career.

Such criticisms of Lock make me harken back to Colin Kaepernick and Michael Vick, as passers only. Both of them could make highlight-type deep throws, but often struggled to make the shorter range throws in key situations. But I also heard the same concerns about Mahomes before he was inserted as a starter for the Chiefs.


Fantasy Outlook

Lock comes across as very confident and not afraid to attack defenses. I think he is going to have his ups and downs early in his career, but ultimately he could emerge as a Brett Favre type. He’ll often be spectacular and occasionally maddening. Joe Flacco has already made it clear that he has no interest in tutoring Lock, he wants to win the starting job over him in 2019. But I do not think he will be able to hold Lock off for long. Lock is the future, and needs to start getting reps with his young and promising cast of playmakers as soon as possible.

Courtland Sutton and Daesean Hamilton can be significant playmakers for Lock for many years to come, and Noah Fant is a marvelous talent who could possibly become the young QB’s top target. I’d look for Lock to take over about six or seven games into his rookie year and have some outings where looks absolutely brilliant, and others where he plays like an overwhelmed newcomer.

By Year Three, though, I am expecting Lock to be on the verge of finishing as a Top 10 Fantasy passer. You may get a high amount of turnovers earlier in his career, but by the third season, it will come with very impressive TD and yardage totals. I’m thinking almost 4.300 passing yards, 30-plus TDs and about 17 INTs by the third season.

I would only draft Drew Lock in a two-QB format as a rookie, but in a dynasty league, he could end up being the second-best fantasy passer from this draft class. Do not hesitate to be aggressive on him in your rookie drafts. He could be a key piece of your dynasty title team one day, much like Favre was in the past.

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