The Denver Broncos are hoping Drew Lock and the words ‘franchise quarterback‘ coincide for the foreseeable future. Having drafted four players at the position in the last five years, I’m sure Broncos fans feel the same way. The question remains: was Sunday’s performance a sign of impending success or precisely what allowed him to drop out of the first round this past April?
Pro Football Network’s own, Tony Pauline, labeled Lock the “poster boy” for boom or bust quarterback prospects ahead of the 2019 draft. Ironically, last week, I wrote a piece on Bills quarterback Josh Allen. Allen was 2018’s boom or bust candidate and the most (recent) comparable prospect to the Missouri QB.
A glaring disparity between the two is that Allen was taken 7th overall. As both passers struggled with accuracy in college, the concern wasn’t enough to drop Allen out of the top ten. Lock, however, fell to the second round, where one would believe the Broncos were lucky to have snagged him 42nd overall. Knowing that Lock needs time to acclimate to the NFL, it’s nice not to have utilized their first-round pick.
With that said, Lock still has a ways to go as the same inconsistencies that plagued him throughout the draft process rear their head from time to time.
Following four straight seasons of 12 or more wins, Peyton Manning retired from the NFL, subsequently sending the Denver Broncos franchise scrambling for its’ future. Starting with Brock Osweiler, the organization continued grabbing college signal-callers while Manning remained on the roster, began his decline, and well after his retirement. Let’s just say the search hasn’t gone as well as one would hope.
In the more than three seasons since winning Super Bowl 50, the Broncos are a combined 25-36 with two wins coming with Lock as the starter. However, Drew Lock isn’t the first supposed franchise quarterback to play well in limited time. We’ve seen this song and dance before with young Broncos signal-callers.
In addition to the several quarterbacks drafted, the Broncos rummaged through the free agency bin and phoned fellow franchises for trades — all in an attempt to replace Manning and salvage a roster built to win now. But much time has passed, and currently, this roster is loaded with inexperienced players primed to grow with the incumbent rookie passer.
Lock has already begun to develop a connection with guys like Noah Fant and Phillip Lindsay.
At first glance, Lock’s outing against the Houston Texans yields immediate praise. He was near perfect in the first half, and after all four quarters, his 136.0 QB rating was fourth-most among Week 14 passers. The tape tells a slightly different story.
While Pro Football Network’s Offensive Share Metric (OSM) states that Lock was a top ten passer for Week 14, his 29.22 score declares he was merely above average. Nothing more, nothing less. But how? Surely his high completion rate (81.5%), 300+ passing yards, and three scores should hold him in higher regard. However, OSM sifts through the debris that so often attaches itself to an offensive player, inflating official statistics in the process.
PFN OSM answers the question of what amount of offensive production was Lock directly responsible for? Finally, a metric that gives credit (and criticism) for a player based solely on what he can control.
One thing is clear; the Denver Broncos staff became admirers of Drew Lock following the Senior Bowl. PFN’s Benjamin Allbright stated back in January that Elway and company loved the tools Lock presented as a potential franchise quarterback.
The Broncos didn’t settle for Lock in the 2019 NFL draft. They got their guy. And they got him much later than they anticipated, making it even more worth their while.
Here’s to hoping Lock’s first two starts are a glimpse into the future rather than beginner’s luck, something Elway and Broncos fans have come to know all too well.
Shane G. Tyler is the Content Director and writer for Pro Football Network’s Film Room. Follow him on Twitter @SugaShane15.