Drew Lock won four of the Denver Broncos’ final five games of the 2019 season as a rookie but is the Missouri product the future at quarterback?
For four seasons, the Denver Broncos have been searching for a successor to the great Peyton Manning. Many knew the Joe Flacco experiment wouldn’t pan out to the degree of a Super Bowl, but then again, who foresaw it only lasting 11 games?
This is where second-round 2019 draft choice Drew Lock came into play. The Missouri quarterback stepped in for the entire month of December, winning four of the Broncos’ final five games, leaving the team and fans with optimism.
Coming out of college, there was plenty of promise with Lock with a pro-ready arm and experience in a pro-style system. Missouri offensive coordinator Derek Dooley ran an array of sets during Lock’s senior year that better-prepared the quarterback for NFL offenses, more so than a lot of the spread offenses you see in college football and like what Lock saw early in his time with the Tigers.
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The analysis was simple: He had a big-time arm and showed the capability of making deep throws but at an inconsistent rate. There was also some concern regarding his pocket awareness. Despite being touted as a possible first-round pick, Lock eventually fell to Round 2, where the Broncos traded up to get him in the middle of the round.
He saw some weeks of preseason action before suffering a thumb sprain that eventually sidelined him for months. His Dec. 1 debut performance against the Los Angeles Chargers was nothing flashy but got the job done in a 23-20 victory. It was the following week in Houston where Lock showed promise, throwing for three scores and over 300 yards while having just five incompletions on the way to putting up 38 points in a win.
If there are questions of jitters standing in the pocket, they’ve been silenced for now. Lock was only taken down five times in five games. That, with the same offensive line Joe Flacco had to protect him — except Flacco was sacked 26 times in 11 starts. Lock also limited turnovers well enough by not once throwing for more than one interception in a game through the final month.
Just last month, the Broncos named Pat Shurmur their offensive coordinator for next season. It’s hard to wonder what this will ultimately mean for the development of Lock. While Shurmur has roots of the west coast offense which has the quarterback getting the ball out quickly, he also will take shots in the vertical game.
We saw flashes of a potent attack with guys like Courtland Sutton and Noah Fant when they had deep-ball opportunities. Overall though, I would think the cautious and shorter throws that Shurmur emphasizes will ease Lock into being the best version of himself in year two.
It’s difficult, yet so significant to find a steady quarterback that a team can depend on each week in the NFL. With such a small sample size, it’s hard to say if Lock will be the one for Denver. Putting a full season under his belt should tell a tale that is more clear. Regardless, there’s optimism in the Mile High air and general manager John Elway has to feel confident that Drew Lock is “the guy”.