What do Next Gen Stats say about Drew Lock’s audition?

Denver Broncos quarterback Drew Lock (3) reacts after a touchdown by running back Phillip Lindsay (not pictured) during the third quarter against the Houston Texans at NRG Stadium.
Dec 8, 2019; Houston, TX, USA; Denver Broncos quarterback Drew Lock (3) reacts after a touchdown by running back Phillip Lindsay (not pictured) during the third quarter against the Houston Texans at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

The Denver Broncos seem to have finally found their solution at quarterback in the form of Drew Lock, who had an impressive rookie campaign, completing almost 65 percent of his attempts for more than 1,000 yards, with seven touchdowns to merely three interceptions.

All that being said, the rookie did have his struggles and he excelled in some unexpected areas. Specifically in regards to what areas of the field Drew Lock was best at targeting.

When Lock entered the starting lineup, the general consensus was that the Broncos should run plays with easily defined reads breaking towards the sideline. This would allow Lock to take advantage of his world-class arm strength, while also keeping away from the muddled area in-between the hashes, where Lock’s field vision was still developing.

However, when looking at Lock’s Next-Gen Stats chart, it appears the Broncos should’ve been doing the exact opposite.

Drew Lock’s Next Gen Stats courtesy ESPN.
Drew Lock’s Next Gen Stats courtesy ESPN.

Lock excelled when firing to the middle of the field, as it was undeniably his best third of the field to throw to. He completed 43 of his 54 attempts when aiming for the middle third of the field, scoring three touchdowns to just one interception. Lock earned a passer rating of 118.8 on deep passes to the middle of the field, 95.3 on intermediate passes, 93.9 on short passes and 118.2 on screens. All of those are better than the league averages, 31.2, 4.0, 4.0 and 23.4 points better respectively.

In his two best games of the season, home against the Lions and at Houston, Lock went a combined 21-for-23 scoring three touchdowns and not throwing a single interception when targeting the center of the defense. In his two worst games of the season, at Kansas City and home against the Chargers, Lock went 12-for-17 across the middle of the field, with no touchdowns and one interception.

In fact, the area Lock struggled the most in, was throwing deep to either sideline, but especially to the one on the right. On targets more than ten yards downfield to the right side, Lock completed just four of his 19 attempts, scoring two touchdowns and throwing two interceptions. Outside of his debut game though, those numbers are an even more dismal 2-for-14 with two interceptions.

When throwing downfield to the left, Lock was a more respectable — though still troubling — 8-for-18 with no touchdowns or interceptions.

Lock will have to improve on his throws to the boundaries in 2020, as defenses begin to adjust to what he does best. Rich Scangarello should also take these numbers into account next season when designing plays for his new quarterback.

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