For the past two months, Former Missouri quarterback Drew Lock has been poked, prodded, interrogated about cheating on a math test in his youth and put through the complex machine that is the NFL Draft process.
“(Lock) has a wow factor about him because of the arm strength that he brings and his ability to drive the ball vertically is obvious.” ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay said during a recent interview on The Elite Sports Podcast. “It’s a little bit more 50/50 than people think between Dwayne Haskins and Drew Lock as far as who will go first.”
Lock commits to the Tigers
Lock, the 6’4, 227 lb rocket-armed quarterback has long since thought to be an NFL GM’s dream, even dating back to his days of dazzling crowds at his alma mater Lees Summit High School outside of Kansas City. In April of 2014, Inside his father Andy’s Summit Grill and surrounded by friends, media and family, he decided that he would ignore the alluring advances of school’s like Michigan and Tennessee and stay home to play for the state school in Columbia, just like his dad and grandfather did before him.
GASN Sports co-founder Noah Gronniger and I lugged our archaic equipment to Lees Summit on a whim that day in hopes of capturing this moment any way we could, not yet realizing that a special relationship would commence that day with an exceptional family.
“When it came down to it and the decision had to be made I asked him a question.” His pragmatic father once said. “Are you OK with someone else being the quarterback at Mizzou?” Drew’s response was simply “Hell no.”
A Rough Beginning
Fast-forward to the Fall of 2015, in what was supposed to be Lock’s season of learning Mizzou’s offense and studying behind incumbent quarterback Maty Mauk. After a 3-1 start, Mauk was suspended from the team amidst reports of off-field malfeasance (video evidence eventually backed up these reports and Mauk was dismissed).
Lock and the Tigers would easily beat South Carolina during his first start as offensive coordinator Josh Henson employed an extremely controlled passing game to keep Lock from harm’s way. That would be the team’s only SEC victory of the season and Lock and the offense would struggle mightily the remainder of that year. By November, head coach Gary Pinkel would announce his retirement from coaching and the state of the program would be in complete upheaval.
“It’s been a roller coaster man.” Lock said during our post-Pro Day interview with him.” There were a lot of times when I thought I hate going through this. I wouldn’t change a thing though, even the bad times because they made me who I am today.”
Although the on-field results were not there for new head coach Barry Odom’s 2016 Tigers, Lock solidified himself as a star on the rise on an improving offense. The team went 4-8 but Lock threw for a respectable 28 touchdowns and had only 8 interceptions. The Missouri offense was still searching for an identity as a staff and philosophy change had taken place, along with a group of skilled position players that were not seasoned enough to win at a high level.
After a 1-5 start in 2017, it seemed things had gone completely off the rails for the program. Lock and the offense were putting up adequate numbers but there was still no winning. Odom voiced his frustration after a loss to Auburn that season and, by hook or by crook, Mizzou would not lose another regular season game that year. All Lock did was break an SEC record for touchdown passes in a single season with 44, throw for almost 4,000 yards and lead a once-hapless team back to bowl eligibility for the first time since 2014. The NFL was ready for Drew Lock, but was he ready for the NFL?
The cliched answer is that Lock felt there was unfinished business left on the table at Mizzou. The program had real momentum on its side for the first time in a few years and players that were committed to seeing the turnaround through to the end.
Defensive tackle Terry Beckner Jr. decided to return to school and Lock was soon to follow with the hope that his draft stock would improve after a year in newly-named offensive coordinator Derek Dooley’s re-vamped system. Missouri became a more balanced offense in 2018 and relied heavily on the running game as another season that seemed to be going off the rails got back on track with an 8-4 record and a second-straight bowl appearance. After suffering through the lowest of lows and fighting through the adversity to become an elite-level college quarterback, Drew set his sights on the NFL Draft despite remaining emotional about his time at Missouri.
“I told myself I wouldn’t cry here after my last game at Mizzou and I balled my eyes out, almost before I even got off the field.” Lock said as a warm smile moved across his face. “We fought through the bad times and got to the good times… it was amazing.”
Draft Day Approaches
As draft day looms, it’s hard not to look back and consider each part of this journey. Lock’s commitment was one of the first big events we ever covered here at GASN Sports. We wound up showing up at several of Drew’s high school games his senior year (a fact that he recalled during our last conversation) as we anxiously anticipated his next step.
I sat high in the bleachers at Faurot Field when he started his first game, knowing he was enduring a baptism by fire. I spoke frequently with his father, Andy Lock after tough losses and harrowing victories. I looked up from the sidelines of Neyland Stadium this past November as Missouri was pummeling Tennessee once again and saw Andy embracing and high-fiving the contingent of Mizzou fans around him. All I could do was smile.
Maybe Drew Lock will go to the Giants, or perhaps the Broncos or Dolphins. It’s possible that he could slide to late in the first and be drafted as an air apparent to a Phillip Rivers, Aaron Rodgers or Tom Brady. Regardless of where he winds up this Thursday, it will be a culmination of many experiences and emotions for a person that will live forever in Mizzou football lore and one that always stayed the course while following what was in his heart.