Back Drew Lock in a Great Spot with Broncos

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Drew Lock in a Great Spot with Broncos

By Dave Holcomb
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Thanks to John Elway’s smart approach to the offseason, Lock has the best chance of success any Denver quarterback has seen since Peyton Manning.

Since Peyton Manning’s retirement, the Denver Broncos have gone through quarterbacks faster than a 5-year-old goes through Easter candy. The franchise and fan base are dying to find a new franchise quarterback.

With that in mind, there couldn’t be more pressure on Drew Lock, who the Broncos drafted in the second round Friday to be their next franchise quarterback. But because Broncos general manager John Elway avoided overplaying his hand, Lock has landed in a situation where he can find far more success than any of Denver’s signal callers over the past three years.

Heading into the 2019 NFL Draft, Lock and Duke’s Daniel Jones were in the next crop of possible first-round quarterbacks. But then Thursday, Jones surprisingly went to the New York Giants at No. 6 ahead of Ohio State’s Dwayne Haskins.

There’s a reason fans don’t run sports organizations -- they often think irrationally. But there’s no denying the Giants fan base disliked the selection of Jones. Whether the public criticism for the pick proves to be right or wrong is irrelevant -- there’s extra pressure on Jones to perform in order to justify him going sixth overall.

Juxtapose that to what happened to Lock, and he’s in a polar opposite spot. While the Broncos desperately need a quarterback, Lock arrives in Denver with the “steal” label as a second-round pick. If the Broncos had selected him No. 10 overall as many expected, he’d received similar high expectations and maybe some of the same scrutiny Jones did and will for the entire summer.

Perhaps even better than the psychological edge Lock receives as a second-round pick than a first-rounder, waiting on the quarterback enabled the Broncos to draft two other star offensive players that are going to help Lock succeed.

After trading back from No. 10 to 20th overall, the Broncos selected Iowa tight end Noah Fant, who was considered the second-best tight end in this class. Then at 41st overall in the second round, Denver took Kansas State offensive tackle Dalton Risner.

Immediately following the selection of Risner, the Broncos used the second-round pick they received from Pittsburgh in exchange for No. 10 overall to then trade back up for the 42nd pick. That is where Denver selected Lock.

The Broncos essentially passed on Lock three times (at No. 10, 20, and 41), but Elway constructed his draft as if he planned to pick the Missouri signal caller in the second round from the start. His selections of Fant and Dalton, both of whom will immediately become Lock’s best two friends on the Broncos offense, signify Elway was building his roster with the idea that he was going to have to help a young signal caller soon.

Other than maybe an innovative play caller, there aren’t two more important things for a young quarterback than a strong, young left tackle and a pass-catching, security blanket tight end.

Maybe Elway made those two picks simply in an effort to get the most out of veteran Joe Flacco. The Broncos needed more weapons and help on the offensive line anyway.

Elway wasn’t going to be bullied into reaching for a quarterback like the Giants were. But at No. 42, he had seen Lock fall enough and found his value at that point to be high enough to trade up to draft him.

Waiting on your preferred quarterback is risky business. That wasn’t a strategy the Giants seemed to even consider -- like most teams, they identified Jones as their guy and made sure he landed on their roster.

But, Elway’s plan worked beautifully. Lock will see lower expectations as a second-round quarterback but arrives in Denver as a first-round talent. And again, the Broncos have two new offensive pieces as well, both of whom many draft experts considered first-round talents.

The veteran presence of Flacco will only help Lock too. At 34, Flacco shouldn’t be viewed as a franchise quarterback, and for that reason, the Broncos acquiring him this offseason was met with some skepticism. But with the Lock selection, Elway clearly views him as a mere placeholder -- a bridge signal caller until the Missouri quarterback is ready.

The two will compete in training camp, and if Lock doesn’t win the job, that’s just fine. The honeymoon period for NFL draft picks has never been shorter, but keep in mind, Patrick Mahomes sat a year and then became the league MVP in his first year as a starter.

If Lock does win the job, even better. The Broncos will figure out what to do with Flacco if that happens. The Philadelphia Eagles had no problem starting Carson Wentz as a rookie instead of Sam Bradford in 2016, and even flipped Bradford for a first-round pick to the desperate Minnesota Vikings.

Lock won’t automatically become Mahomes if he sits and learns for a year, and it’s unlikely Flacco will warrant a high-draft pick on the trade market. But Elway acquiring both quarterback this offseason gives the Broncos options in 2019 and 2020.

Lock likely never experienced a longer 24 hours of his life than he did Thursday night and into Friday when he fell out of the first round. But in the long run, his wait should be worth it.

Thanks to Elway’s smart approach to the offseason, Lock has the best chance of success any Denver quarterback has seen since Manning.