Drew Lock and the Art of the Quarterback Pro Day Performance

NFL teams have already seen everything they need to see from Missouri’s four-year starter. Still, it didn’t stop Lock and his coaches from painstakingly assembling a 54-play script to throw against air at Missouri’s pro day. How a pro day performance comes together. Plus, the latest on the Giants’ interest in Dwayne Haskins.
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UPDATE: At Missouri’s pro day, Drew Lock threw a few eye-popping balls, like this one, thrown while escaping the pocket. Two notable NFL people in attendance were Giants offensive coordinator Mike Shula and Chargers offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt. NFL Network’s Steve Wyche reported that Lock has met or will meet with the Giants, Dolphins, Chargers, Broncos, Washington and one surprising team, the Lions.

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All eyes will be on Drew Lock at Missouri’s pro day, as he throws a script of around 54 passes. But the reality is, scouts already know everything they need to know about Lock. They’ve already studied every game over his four seasons-worth of tape as Missouri’s starting quarterback. They’ve watched him play in the Senior Bowl. They’ve interviewed him at the combine. Whether Lock goes 54-for-54 or 49-for-54 is not going to change what any team thinks about him. Still, he and his quarterback coaches Justin Hoover and Jordan Palmer have spent countless hours tweaking a personalized script.

Creating that script is no simple task. Lock’s own script, maintained in a Google doc, has already seen 10 different iterations in the last month—Lock, Palmer and Hoover were all shared on the doc and could go in and make changes as small as the hashmark, or the receiver catching the ball, or changing one play to an audible at the line of scrimmage.

“It’s not like the Falcons print off a sheet and say, Here you go,” says Hoover, who has been working with Lock since he was in high school. “There’s a science to it.”

Many quarterback scripts begin as a generic template, and are personalized for the quarterback to include throws that he feels confident in. They usually begin with a few easy completions, slants and pitches, like a standard game plan would, to help the quarterback establish a rhythm. “When you walk in a gym and you get ready to start shooting baskets, you’re not going to start with three point shots, you want some easy makes,” Hoover says. From there, the throws will increase in difficulty, and for most prospects like Lock, they need to show some skills that weren’t part of their collegiate offense, like a seven-step drop from under center. For Lock in particular, scouts will be looking for that footwork and timing and his consistency in ball placement.

And the quarterback isn’t the only player who matters when designing a script. “How many guys do you have running for you?” Hoover asks. “You don’t want the running back to only get two routes, so you build in eight to him instead of four.”

Because Lock has so many throws on tape, he could probably get away with a shorter script, but Hoover doesn’t want to risk implying anything. “If you only do 35, get in and get out, then it is like, Well, what don’t they want to throw?” he says.

And then you have to think about travel time in between throws for receivers. If receiver prospect Emanuel Hall runs a dig route from left to right, it only makes sense that he should run a curl route from right to left, because he finished the previous play on the right side of the field.

Every good pro day script also has a backup plan. An in-case-of-emergency-break-glass option to use if, say, a receiver pulls a hamstring and can’t finish the script. In Lock’s case, three of his receivers are not Missouri football prospects, but they are running a few routes and will be able to sub in if anyone gets hurt.

Lock has gone over his script so many times he’s nearly memorized it, but he and his receivers weren’t all together in the same place until Wednesday in Columbia, the day before show time. Hoover called that the dress rehearsal, when it finally started feeling real for Lock and the receivers.

Most quarterback coaches print out the script and pass it out to scouts and NFL personnel in attendance, so it’s easier to follow along. Some scouts like to mark each throw on their script sheet with plus or a minus sign. If there’s a certain throw that a team wants to see, they have a chance to ask for the quarterback to throw it at the end of the workout. That rarely happens though. These scripts are so fine-tuned that nothing is left out.

The script is always fluid. If Lock decides he wants to add something, he can ad-lib and call out whatever particular throw he’s feeling in the moment. “It is always evolving for that certain quarterback,” Hoover says. “We’re making it his. This is Drew’s day so nothing on this script has been made without him saying, ‘I really want to show that and I really like it.’”

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MORE PRO DAY UPDATES: Meanwhile in Morgantown, W.V., quarterback Will Grier thoroughly impressed scouts at his pro day. ESPN’s Adam Schefter tweeted that a scout told him Grier “put on a show” and will likely be “a riser” in the draft. Of note, Giants head coach Pat Shurmur attended Grier’s pro day. NFL Network’s Aditi Kinkhabwala reported that Lock met with the Giants on Thursday and had two dinners with teams on Wednesday night—one with the Panthers offensive coordinator Norv Turner and quarterbacks coach Scott Turner, and another with Redskins head coach Jay Gruden. 

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DRAFT NEWS AND NOTES: Mike Garofolo reported that Giants brass had dinner with Ohio State quarterback Dwayne Haskins Tuesday night ahead of Ohio State’s pro day. The Giants’ group included head coach Pat Shurmur, offensive coordinator Mike Shula, senior VP of player personnel Chris Mara, national scouting director Chris Pettit and assistant general manager Kevin Abrams. It’s beginning to feel like the Giants are doing plenty of work on the QB they’ve often been connected to … ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that Haskins is scheduled to visit Washington, Denver and the Giants.

Another good point on the Giants and their reported lack of interest in Haskins: A scout told me the report doesn’t make sense because every team has to do work on every player that is at a position of need. Players rarely fall through the cracks these days because teams are so good at turning over every stone and evaluating every player. So for the Giants, there isn’t a quarterback in this draft that they haven’t already done a lot of work on.

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