COLUMBIA, Mo. — Drew Lock will return for his senior season at Missouri.
The junior from Lee's Summit announced his decision Tuesday afternoon on Twitter, ending speculation about the future of a Missouri offense that lost offensive coordinator Josh Heupel and offensive line coach Glen Elarbee to Central Florida and added offensive coordinator Derek Dooley from the Dallas Cowboys.
He listed five reasons in his hype video that influenced his decision to return. "1. A feeling of responsibility to my football coaches and teammates at Mizzou. 2. Playing in a new offensive system that will continue to add to my development. 3. Opportunity to reach team and personal goals not yet achieved. 4. Graduating. 5. Giving myself the best chance to succeed at the next level."
The 2018 draft class is deep and includes five other quarterbacks who would all likely be drafted before Lock: Heisman winners Baker Mayfield and Lamar Jackson, Josh Rosen, Sam Darnold and Josh Allen, plus four others (Mason Rudolph, Logan Woodside, Nick Stevens and Riley Ferguson) who Lock would have directly competed against.
Before the Texas Bowl, Lock recognized returning and playing under a new offensive coordinator — his third in four years — would help him show NFL teams his versatility. He also recognized his draft grade told him to return to school and scouts told Lock he didn't have enough film of intermediate distance passes, which were not emphasized in Heupel's system.
"I'm very excited to be coming back for my senior year, and I'm really optimistic about what we can do as a team next season," Lock said in a statement released by the team. "There were a lot of factors that went into this decision, but the main ones include: a feeling of responsibility and loyalty to my coaches and teammates at Mizzou — we have goals to achieve together; having the chance to play for a new coach in Coach Dooley, and his system that will continue to add to my development; and of course, getting my degree.
"I feel like all of these factors combine to give me the best chance to succeed at the next level. Thank you to Coach Odom and everyone on the Mizzou staff for being patient and very helpful to my family and me during this process. I'm looking forward to exciting things to come!"
Efficiency, especially against top defenses, is also a knock against Lock, though he chased some of those criticisms during the six-game win streak that would prove to be Heupel's swan song in Columbia.
He played Power-5 opponents in 27 of his 37 career games, 24 against SEC teams, two against Big 12 and one against Big 10 opponents. Lock completed 432-of-851 passes in those games, according to sports-reference.com, a completion percentage of 50.7, and threw for 5,775 yards, 39 touchdowns and 27 interceptions. That's an average game line of 16-for-31.5 for 214 yards, 1.44 touchdowns and an interception, and a passing efficiency rating (which weights yards, touchdowns, interceptions and completions per attempt) of 114.36.
As an example, Lock finished fourth in that category this season per sports-reference.com with a 165.7 rating, behind Mayfield (198.9), UCF's McKenzie Milton (179.3) and Rudolph (170.6), and did not finish in the top-20 in 2015 or 2016.
The lowest passing efficiency rating to crack the top-20 was Arkansas State's Justice Hansen's 149.6 in 2017, and Jarrett Stidham is a point and a half above him.
Lock's college numbers have improved greatly this season, but his best bet for a shot at the NFL was to return for another year.
"I'm proud of Drew and his family for how they approached this decision and how they handled themselves during the process," Barry Odom said in the statement. "We were very thorough in gathering all the information possible to assist. Drew obviously has a great skill set that will continue to be developed at Mizzou. His leadership skills and being a great teammate are two qualities that I admire.
"I look forward to building our team this spring and am excited that Drew will be part of that. I know he will have an unbelievable approach in his preparation and practice habits to lead our program. He's going to graduate from Mizzou and have a great senior season. I'm excited for Drew and our team moving forward."
Lock is a sport management major and is scheduled to graduate in December.