Wednesday, November 21, 2018
Florida Gators

Drew Lock flashes NFL draft potential that could intrigue Bucs

GAINESVILLE — With the Tampa Bay Bucs in the midst of yet another quarterback conundrum, a young quarterback who could provide a solution next season set records on Saturday about 130 miles north of Raymond James Stadium.

He grabbed the No. 3 spot on the Southeastern Conference career touchdown passes list Saturday, sliding by Peyton Manning and Florida's Chris Leak and Tim Tebow in the stadium at which Tebow has a statue outside.

His name: Drew Lock, a Missouri senior who is expected to hear his name called in the first round of the NFL draft next spring.

There is no guarantee that Tampa Bay drafts a quarterback early or that if it does, Lock's the pick. But already, the Buccaneers have been connected to Lock in extremely early mock drafts. Not to mention, a Buccaneers scout attended the Florida-Missouri game.

This scout and all 80,017 fans who attended Florida's Homecoming game watched as Lock tossed three touchdowns to lead Missouri to a 38-17 upset of No. 13 Florida.

Lock completed 24 of 32 pass attempts for 250 yards and did not throw an interception.

"I think he's probably the best quarterback in the SEC," Florida coach Dan Mullen said.

The reasons Lock ranks among the best in the SEC have NFL teams intrigued: Arm strength and his ability to throw in tight windows.

Lock displayed both at various times Saturday, but no pass served as a better example than a rocket he threw to Emanuel Hall in the second quarter. With Hall streaking down the left sideline, Lock hit him in stride in a tight window for 41 yards. The pass set up a rushing touchdown.

"His arm is very dynamic," Missouri cornerback DeMarcus Acy said. "We call him robo-arm just because he puts his balls in a perfect position."

The rushing touchdown displayed another element of Lock's game. Holding onto the football, Lock sprinted to the right with running back Damarea Crockett behind him. Lock held onto the football long enough to freeze defensive end Jachai Polite until Lock could flip the ball to Crockett who walked in for a touchdown.

The run Lock made to reach the first down that set up a field goal that iced the game also had his teammates raving about his rushing abilities.

"He's a hell of an athlete," guard Kevin Pendleton said.

But it's his arm that has him tabbed as a likely first-round pick. For much of this season, he hasn't helped his draft stock, though. Before Saturday, Lock had thrown only one touchdown to go with five interceptions in four SEC games this season, all losses.

Another criticism of Lock is that he struggles to make plays while under pressure. But Saturday, as rushers closed in on him early in the third quarter, Lock stayed in the pocket and delivered a 41-yard strike to Kam Scott for a touchdown.

"When Drew is at his best and he is playing calm and how he can play, he can make every throw on the field and he can make every read," wide receiver Johnathon Johnson said. "It's just easy to him. He is just in the backyard playing football."

Maybe, just maybe he will be doing so in a Bucs uniform next fall.

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