Standing just beyond the chain-link fence that separated the field from the rest of Ladd-Peebles Stadium, Andy Lock couldn’t help but smile in quiet disbelief.
There, just a couple feet away, he watched as Oakland Raiders coach, quarterback guru and Senior Bowl North Team coach Jon Gruden whispered a play in his son’s ear. A couple seconds later, Drew Lock executed the throw. As he walked back by Gruden, the coach slipped him a sly fist bump.
“It absolutely is a dream scenario,” Andy Lock said. “There’s no question about it. Like am I really standing here watching Jon Gruden coach my son on the football field?”
For father and son, the week in Mobile, Ala., for the Senior Bowl is the next step in realizing Drew’s dream of playing in the NFL. As the 2019 quarterback draft class grows in prestige with the early entries of Ohio State’s Dwayne Haskins and Oklahoma’s Kyler Murray, Lock’s performance in the Senior Bowl can go a long way in bumping him back into the elite tier of gunslinging talent selected in the first round of the NFL Draft.
The Lee’s Summit and Mizzou product said he wants to “end the week on a really high note.”
“Try to show people who I am, why I’m supposed to be a first-rounder,” Lock said. “Why I’m supposed to be one of the better quarterbacks in the class.”
Though the entries of Murray and Haskins have bumped Lock from being a first-round pick in many mock drafts, he’s near the top of the class of senior quarterbacks in Mobile. Practicing with the North team, Lock is on a squad that also includes N.C. State’s Ryan Finley, Penn State’s Trace McSorley and Duke’s Daniel Jones.
“It’s a little bit different this week because you kind hear that Drew might be the top-rated quarterback in this,” Andy said. “But I do think he always feels like he has something to prove and he’ll probably feel that way until he’s 50 years old.”
Lock, who is represented by CAA agent Tom Condon, has four years of game film from his time at Missouri. But he’s not afraid to throw the ball around a little bit more at showcases like this. He said he also plans to throw next month’s NFL Scouting Combine and at his pro day.
“I want to go out there and throw it,” he said. “If anyone needs to see me throw it some more, I’ve been doing it my whole life. I can surely do it one more day.”
Projected to go No. 29 to the New England Patriots in Mel Kiper Jr.’s first mock draft, Duke’s Jones is easily Lock’s stiffest competition. He’s also his roommate.
Their first night in Mobile, the pair sat in silence, poring over their hefty playbooks.
“It was more like we have beads of sweat dripping down our face silence,” Lock said. “Like holy cow, we’ve gotta figure this stuff out so Coach Gruden doesn’t yell at us. We bounce things off each other. I think we really focused and we were a little tired too.”
Gruden only has a handful of practices to work with his team before Saturday’s game, and in those, he wants to put Lock in a variety of offensive looks.
“Underneath the center, in the shotgun, in the no-huddle offense,” Gruden said. “I want to see him communicate. In a lot of these colleges, they use a silent count, they don’t get in the huddle, so the communication, the recognition of the defense and the execution is what I’m after. I like to see them do that at a very, very high level because that’s what the top picks have to do.”
Through two practices, Lock has emphasized keeping the ball off the ground and vocally communicating with his team — things he had to improve upon after Tuesday afternoon’s rainy practice.
“He got on me a little bit in the beginning about it,” Lock said. “Apparently I was being a little quiet today to where I ended up picking it up, vocalizing a little bit more, getting it from the gut a little bit.
“It’s a little different, like (Gruden) says. We’ll ‘set,’ ‘hut’ or clap. So it’s a little different going a full cadence and getting the swing of that.”
After Wednesday’s practice, Lock said he felt much more comfortable in Gruden’s system, moving in and out of the huddle with conviction and making his calls loudly and crisply.
But for Lock, perhaps the most important part of the week comes in what he does off the field. In between practices, Lock shuffles between meetings with NFL teams, in both formal and informal settings. He declined to say exactly which teams he was meeting with, but all are doing their homework.
One, he said, asked him about an incident where he cheated on a geometry test as a freshman at Lee’s Summit High.
“I honestly couldn’t believe it,” he said. “They went back and checked my high school records, and there was one thing on there and that was me cheating my freshman year. They couldn’t release it because they didn’t have some waiver to see what exactly it was I went to the office for.”
“It was (geometry) proofs and whatnot,” Lock added. “It was rough.”
He can laugh about it now, but the intense scrutiny is part of the vetting process that NFL teams go through to select the right multi-million dollar investment. Both father and son get that and welcome it. One team spent 45 minutes on the phone with Lock’s high school coach combing through every detail of his career.
“They have to do their due diligence,” Andy said. “Every step of that due diligence is a piece to a story, so I don’t blame them at all. I would do the same thing. I know there’s been a lot of decisions made on kind of how kids act off the field. As it should be. It doesn’t surprise me at all. … it’ll increase his stock the more they dig into him, I think.”
After his son finished practice Tuesday, father walked through the gate in the fence and strode toward his son. The pair briefly embraced at midfield before Drew jogged off to rejoin his North team and head back for more meetings and interviews.
“You see the kids over the last four, five, six years that you know going through the process like Baker Mayfield, Josh Allen last year and the kids before that and you see them doing it,” Andy said. “Man, that’s so neat. And you walk in the stadium and he’s got the yellow jersey on throwing balls to the receiver.
“It’s a special moment. There’s a lot of special moments, but this is certainly one of them.”