Is Drew Lock capable of leading Denver to the playoffs in 2020?

Building around offensive weapons, Drew Lock and the Broncos will be hoping to end their current four-season long playoff drought.

The new Denver Broncos offense is really starting to take form. Building around weapons like Melvin Gordon, Noah Fant, and Courtland Sutton, the Broncos will look to end their four-season long playoff drought. Driving the ship is their young quarterback Drew Lock, who is starting his first full season this year. With plenty of talent on the rosters right now, is Lock capable of getting Denver back to the postseason? Let’s look at some of the analytics to get a better picture.

[sv slug=mocksim]

Drew Lock and the Offensive Share Metric

Drew Lock was drafted during the second round of the 2019 NFL Draft by the Denver Broncos. As the 2019 offseason progressed, it seemed that Lock would be their new starting quarterback. However, he suffered a thumb injury during the preseason that forced him to be out for most of the year.

Lock didn’t see the field until December of 2019 when he was officially named the starting quarterback for the Broncos. Lock played in 100% of the offensive snaps over the last five games of the 2019 regular season.

Mike Tanier Season Preview | The Colts and Broncos top the list of 2020 AFC playoff sleeper teams

Even though it was brief, those five games gave us a good look at the amount of value that Lock adds to the Denver offense. Lock completed just 100 passes for 1,020 receiving yards, seven touchdowns, and three interceptions. For individual production value, this performance was average at best. Lock’s overall OSM grade for 2019 was a measly 17.22 and placed as QB38 out of a possible 39.

A closer look at Lock’s OSM grades

The Offensive Share Metric (OSM) was created to provide a numerical scale to measure the overall value that an individual player provides to his offensive unit. A player with a higher OSM grade isn’t necessarily a higher skilled player, but they do create more offensive production for their team than a player with a lower OSM.

Lock was terribly inconsistent last year. He seemed to move between an average QB, to a good QB, to an awful QB from week-to-week and it was hard to tell which version of Drew Lock you were going to get on any given Sunday. His OSM grades reflected a production output that could swing in any direction. Not a characteristic that you want to see in your leading guy.

Lock’s 2019 progression

Lock’s first three games (NFL Week 13, 14, and 15) showed his OSM production swing from a 22.59, then up to 29.22, and down to a -3.17. He never seemed to hit a groove and struggled with his completion percentages. Really, the most consistent part of Lock’s first three games as a starting quarterback were the interceptions — he threw one in all three.

Related | What are the three biggest storylines for the Denver Broncos in 2020?

Week 15 for Lock was just awful. His OSM grade that week was an abysmal -3.17. A negative production grade for a quarterback isn’t a sight that is seen very often on the metrics — it happened only seven times all last season. This means that Lock being on the field was actually more detrimental to his team than of bringing any kind of value. Out of 40 attempts, he only completed 18 passes. He recorded zero touchdowns and an interception. His passer rating that week has barely a 50.

Things just never hit the mark for Lock in 2019. He never had two back-to-back games with similar production outputs to illustrate any kind of consistency. Yes, he did have some okay games last season with some signs of life, but no momentum ever seemed to carry over into the next week. For rookie quarterbacks last year, he was dead last when graded on value to his team, behind Gardner Minshew and David Blough. Not good.

Can Drew Lock lead the Broncos to the playoffs in 2020?

Okay, let’s be fair. I realize that we’re judging Lock over just five games. But, you would expect to see some kind of silver lining across the final quarter of the regular season from your starting quarterback. Lock did play lights out in Week 14, but without that one exception, things just looked dull and uninspiring. If the Broncos can manage to put together an above .500 season and squeeze their way into the playoffs, I just don’t see a scenario in which it’s Lock taking them there.

The Broncos have been a revolving door of quarterbacks the last few seasons. A quick glance through Twitter shows a slew of fans hoping that Lock can be their next franchise guy. For their sake, hopefully, I’m wrong, and what we saw in 2019 was just the “first-year jitters”. But I just have the feeling that we’re not done trying to find a quarterback in Denver just yet.