With the premier quarterback prospect showdown between Will Grier and Ryan Finley cancelled because of Hurricane Florence, Drew Lock took center stage ... and took over the top spot in my signal-caller rankings with a dazzling performance in the win against Purdue.
The Missouri quarterback was as calm in the pocket as I've seen him. He threw accurately to all levels, and, as per usual, zinged awe-inspiring 100 mph fastballs all over the field.
Here's the latest edition of QB Stock Watch, which includes a new member in the top 5.
1. Drew Lock, Missouri: Stock Up
Most impressive performance I've watched from Lock. Seriously. Sure, it was against a Purdue team that lost at home to Eastern Michigan the week before, but the cannon-armed quarterback demonstrated a variety of NFL franchise quarterback skills and didn't really make any major mistakes all evening. Oh, and he led a game-winning drive.
Lock was on-target all evening, connecting with Emanuel Hall on an assortment of deep strikes down the field ... and one early in the game that would've been a walk-in touchdown that Hall uncharacteristically dropped. His pocket presence looked a little shaky, but he did stand in well beyond his first read frequently to find open receivers while scanning the whole field. More specifically, there were two instances when he left the pocket early but more instances in which he stood in, probably the most important example of the latter came on a 2nd and 10 on the final drive when he waited, drifted, and found a safety valve running back for a big gain. On one of his touchdowns, Lock looked right then quickly snapped his head toward the left sideline and threw a laser beam for the score. As usual, the velocity on his throws toward the sideline was tremendous.
His effort in the win against the Boilermakers and Finley's absence on Saturday leads to Lock taking over the [Ludacris voice] NUMBA 1 SPOOOT.
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2. Ryan Finley, NC State: Stock Steady
Enormous game against Will Grier and West Virginia was cancelled due to Hurricane Florence.
3. Justin Herbert, Oregon: Stock Down
Herbert had his least-effective day as the Oregon quarterback against a pesky San Jose State defense in Eugene Saturday. He finished the day 16 of 34 (47.1 percent) for 309 yards, three touchdowns and two picks, one of which occurred in the end zone that could've been snagged by the underneath defender but was tipped into the hands of another Spartan defensive back. The other was a throw in which he faded to his left as pressure mounted while throwing to his right ... directly into the hands of a San Jose State linebacker.
One of his touchdowns was a dime ... the other two went to wide open receivers. Herbert simply didn't look comfortable. I did see him show immense pocket patience once, but he couldn't find anyone open. Other times he saw ghosts and scrambled prematurely.
4. Will Grier, West Virginia: Stock Steady
Enormous game against Ryan Finley and NC State was cancelled due to Hurricane Florence.
5. Tyree Jackson, Buffalo
The 6-foot-7, 245-pound Jackson has been too good to start his junior season to not be included in the top 5 anymore. Early in the win over Eastern Michigan, Jackson rolled to his left and showed outstanding athleticism and downfield touch on a 50-yard strike to Anthony Johnson inside the five-yard line that set up a touchdown. On the next drive, when forced to his right, he directed a receiver in the end zone to cut back against the grain and found him for an easy score.
In the second quarter, after just missing on two downfield tosses, Jackson unloaded a rocket that traveled 55 yards in the air and landed perfectly in his receiver's hands for a touchdown. The throw came as the tall signal-caller was moving away from pressure to his left. When he's set in the pocket and his arm angle doesn't sink, Jackson has probably the second-strongest arm in this class behind Lock. He threw a deep flag route from just inside the 50 on a rope to the 15-yard line. He was mostly calm in the pocket but did misfire high and outside on three of his deep balls yet made up for those with three big strikes down the field. Jackson went 21 of 26 for 325 yards with three touchdowns and no picks in the win on Saturday. He's a serious, potential first-round quarterback prospect, and he's 2019 draft eligible.
6. Jarrett Stidham, Auburn: Stock Down
The two interceptions were bad ... the first was the opening pass of the game when he was late on the sideline comeback. The second came with an eight-point lead late in the third quarter that may have been a miscommunication with his receiver but did seem to be another late throw toward the sideline. Stidham connected on a pair of well-placed back-shoulder tosses and had moments of good pocket patience. But he did miss on his four deep shots and had plays when he ran out of clean pockets into edge pressure. His stagnancy aided LSU's comeback on the road. There's some Blake Bortles to Stidham's game.
Honorable Mention: Jake Browning, Washington
Ok, Browning wasn't amazing against Utah, and his reverse-his-field, fade-away, throw-while-falling-to-the-ground interception to a defensive linemen was about as brutal as it gets. But the veteran quarterback definitely has selective amnesia when it comes his classic overextensions that lead to disasters.
Without star left tackle Trey Adams, Browning is routinely under pressure but his eyes rarely drop. I'm also still intrigued by his pocket patience, field-scanning and anticipation skills. He needs to eliminate those crazy improvisational plays. It was a hard-fought win on the road at Utah for the Huskies, and a gritty performance from Browning, which gets him the honorable mention nod this week.