Denver Broncos: Is quarterback the team’s top need?

SEATTLE, WASHINGTON - AUGUST 08: Drew Lock #3 of the Denver Broncos throws a pass against the Seattle Seahawks during the second half of the preseason game at CenturyLink Field on August 08, 2019 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Alika Jenner/Getty Images)
SEATTLE, WASHINGTON - AUGUST 08: Drew Lock #3 of the Denver Broncos throws a pass against the Seattle Seahawks during the second half of the preseason game at CenturyLink Field on August 08, 2019 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Alika Jenner/Getty Images) /

The Denver Broncos are heading towards the end of the 2019 season with question marks at the quarterback position. Is the QB position the team’s top need?

The quarterback position is the most important in football, and since Peyton Manning retired (and let’s be honest, even before that) it has been a major question mark for the Denver Broncos.

The Broncos have gone through a dry spell at the quarterback position since the start of the 2016 offseason, though not for lack of trying to figure it out.

John Elway has tried signing guys, trading for guys, and even using a first-round pick on a quarterback in 2016 (Paxton Lynch). Since that point, the best quarterback the Broncos have had in the post-Peyton Manning era has been Trevor Siemian, and that right there tells us all we need to know.

After Elway drafted Paxton Lynch, the hope was obviously that the Broncos had figured things out at the QB position for the long-term, but that didn’t turn out to be the case. Lynch struggled through injuries, ineptitude, and coaching changes before he was ultimately cut by the Broncos before the 2018 season.

To pretty much everyone’s surprise, the Broncos didn’t use a single draft pick on the quarterback position in 2018, and they didn’t sign any undrafted free agents at that position, either.

As a matter of fact, other than Chad Kelly with the very last pick in 2017, the Broncos didn’t use a draft pick on the quarterback position at all until Drew Lock in 2019 after taking Lynch in the first round of the 2016 NFL Draft. They haven’t found their franchise QB to this point, but is quarterback currently the top need on the Broncos’ roster?

There’s been a saying floating around on Broncos Twitter — “QB is the top need until it isn’t.”

This is an accurate statement and a general rule for team building that I agree with, but is it currently applicable to the Broncos? I want to explore that for a bit.

The Broncos are certainly not going to be moving forward with Joe Flacco as the quarterback. He was horrendous. Not since Jay Cutler was around back in 2007-08 have the Broncos committed fully to a young quarterback at the top of the depth chart over the course of an entire offseason with a returning coaching staff.

The time has come for the Broncos to buy in to a young player at the QB position, build the offense with and around him, and commit to that whole process. Is Drew Lock the guy they are planning on doing that with?

That is the first sort of ‘sub-question’ we have to answer with the overarching question being, is quarterback the Broncos’ top need right now?

Let’s clear a couple of things up.

The fact that Lock was a second-round pick instead of a first-round pick does not mean that the Broncos can’t build around him as their QB of the future.

Also, just because the Broncos haven’t put Lock out there in 2019 doesn’t mean they don’t like him as the future of the team.

Lastly, not all first-round quarterbacks end up being superstars, even top 10 picks at the position.

Head coach Vic Fangio also recently talked about the fact that it’s not critically important for Lock to play this year in terms of the team’s evaluation of him going forward. They want to see an entire body of work from Lock and aren’t going to get too high or too low on anything he does or doesn’t do in 2019.

I think that is fair, although selfishly I would love to see him play ASAP. The team apparently just doesn’t feel he’s ready to do that.

The Broncos reserve the right to keep the door open for a first-round pick at quarterback in 2020. The determination of whether or not to invest in Lock moving forward apparently will not be based entirely on what he does in games. Developing a young quarterback is certainly a process, but Lock is the most talented and accomplished college quarterback the Broncos have drafted during John Elway’s tenure as general manager of the team.

They traded up to get him, and also apparently tried to trade back into the first round to get him.

The Broncos obviously think very highly of Lock but they have been coy about his development to this point. That doesn’t mean they are necessarily displeased with where he’s at, he’s just not ready yet.

There’s no microwave for young quarterbacks, and because Lock hasn’t been out there to prove himself, many in Broncos Country still consider the quarterback position the team’s top need.

I am not in agreement.

Lock’s presence on the roster should negate the ‘need’ for a quarterback. He is an unknown, but so would any young quarterback from this draft class. You can poke holes in all of these top prospects’ games, their personalities, their injury history, and more.

Joe Burrow? He’s having a phenomenal year for LSU, but is he just a one year wonder? How would we ever know?

Tua Tagovailoa is an enticing prospect and a number one overall type of talent, but he’s been injured far too often in college to bank as a sure thing at the next level.

Justin Herbert has excellent physical skills but there have always been questions about his ability to step up in big moments against good defenses, and he has an injury history as well that’s worth digging into.

Any of the other quarterbacks in the 2020 NFL Draft class present their own set of question marks, and that’s not to say that Drew Lock doesn’t, but the Broncos traded a second, fourth, and sixth-round pick to move up and get Lock in the 2019 NFL Draft, and although he wasn’t a first-round pick, who said you have to be a first-round pick to be a successful NFL quarterback?

I’m arguing that with Lock on the roster, the Broncos’ quarterback position remains an unknown until he plays, but it’s not their most desperate need in the offseason to address either via free agency or the NFL Draft. You have a guy, give him a chance.

Next. 2020 Broncos mock draft with a playmaker on top. dark

If the Broncos feel like a veteran or prospect is a better fit for their program or a better overall talent than Lock, they reserve the right to upgrade. But at this point, if I were John Elway, I would not be approaching the 2020 offseason as though quarterback was an area of need. I would be approaching it as though I had my guy on the roster and the top priority would be surrounding Lock with as much talent as possible on both sides of the ball to help make him successful.