Chad Kelly (2017), Paxton Lynch (2016), and Trevor Siemian (2015) are the last three quarterbacks that were drafted prior to the selection of Drew Lock in the second round of the 2019 NFL Draft. Case Keenum, Brock Osweiler, Joe Flacco, and Brandon Allen are other players who have started under center for the Denver Broncos since the heartfelt retirement of Peyton Manning in 2016 following a victory in Super Bowl 50.
Now up: Lock ... maybe.
After many mock drafts anticipated the franchise would take Lock with the No. 10 overall pick, the Broncos ultimately traded back and selected the former Mizzou signal-caller with the 42nd overall pick. He went on to have an up-and-down preseason, but many were excited about the potential of Lock becoming the eventual successor to Flacco.
Then came the injury bug.
Lock suffered a sprained thumb in a preseason game against the San Francisco 49ers on Aug. 19. It kept him sidelined for three months. With Christmas around the corner, there is high anticipation for unwrapping the prized new quarterback that is supposed to be the answer to the team’s woes.
After rumors of his status circled, the team officially activated him off the injured reserved list. There still is no word on who will make the start Sunday, but many are speculating that the rookie will finally get his regular-season debut.
There are plenty of factors that Lock brings to the table that will intrigue Broncos’ supporters, but there are many other traits that will need to be corrected.
Here are a few observations from my initial scouting report on Lock:
Lock is an extremely gifted thrower who possesses near-elite arm strength. There isn’t a throw that he can’t make because of his supreme gift and he has the ability to push the ball deep even when throwing windows are crowded. His arm strength can be a gift and a curse, but the good heavily outweighed the bad as his career went along while at Missouri.
The upside is there, but he's rough around the edges. There are plenty of areas within his game that he needs to improve upon, but his highs and lows are clearly evident. The great aspect about his lows is that most of them are correctable if he's able to be drafted into the proper coaching environment with a patient approach. Had a brutally low 49-percent completion percentage as a true freshman, but increased it to 62.9-percent during his final season. Despite having three offensive coordinators in four seasons, he still showed progress every year.
Jekyll and Hyde is the best way to describe his playing style as he isn't afraid to test tight windows and his aggressive nature is often successful. Other times, he can trust his arm a bit too much and make a bunch of high faith type of throws because of his extreme levels of confidence in his natural traits.
He has a bad habit of routinely falling away from throws when uncalled for. He's prone to fade away or drift from simple throws, making them look difficult. Lock performs this act at an alarmingly high rate. A bad habit that will need to be corrected, otherwise his ball placement will continue to be unpredictable and fall short at an uncontrollable degree.
Lock has a true gunslinger mentality, but right now, he goes for the home-run swing too frequently instead of taking what the defense gives him. He forces throws to targets that aren't open simply because he has lots of confidence in his arm strength. Lock is prone to be overly reliant on his arm strength and in-turn, it results in him sacrificing some of the minor details that come with playing the position, which is also required on a down-to-down basis.
The positional needs list for the Broncos is long after a disappointing 3-8 record under first-year head coach Vic Fangio. The team currently holds the sixth-overall selection in the 2020 NFL Draft and there are already debates as to whether or not the team should enter the QB market again to continue the search for the franchise’s next leader.
With Lock expected to be the team’s next option against the Los Angeles Chargers, what will he have to do to keep the team from even entertaining the thought of drafting a quarterback early on next season?
It will take more than looking competent. He cannot be the reason Denver loses games down the backstretch. After all, it is the common denominator the Broncos will want to consider before heading into the offseason with another franchise-altering decision on their hands.