Denver Broncos: Has Drew Lock proven he’s the guy?

HOUSTON, TX - DECEMBER 08: Drew Lock #3 of the Denver Broncos celebrates after a touchdown pass in the second quarter against the Houston Texans at NRG Stadium on December 8, 2019 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TX - DECEMBER 08: Drew Lock #3 of the Denver Broncos celebrates after a touchdown pass in the second quarter against the Houston Texans at NRG Stadium on December 8, 2019 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images) /

Has Denver Broncos rookie quarterback Drew Lock proven enough to show at this point that he’s the Broncos’ guy moving forward?

For four years, the Denver Broncos have been waiting for something — anything — that looks even remotely close to a long-term option at the quarterback position.

Trevor Siemian won 13-of-24 starts with the team after taking over the starting job in 2016, but it was always clear that he wasn’t going to be a long-term option as a starter, even as a ‘system’ quarterback.

Paxton Lynch proved quickly that he wasn’t NFL material, and both Case Keenum and Joe Flacco were unable to reach their respective best-case scenarios.

Six quarterbacks have started for the Broncos since Peyton Manning retired, including those four along with Brock Osweiler and Brandon Allen, and the seventh quarterback to start in the post-Manning era just might be the Broncos’ long-term solution.

Although we’ve been singing Drew Lock’s praises here at Predominantly Orange for two years, to see him playing as well as he has in his first two starts with the team is bordering on surreal.

Lock became the first rookie quarterback in NFL history to throw for over 300 yards and three touchdowns in his first road start. He has put more on tape in his two regular season starts with the Broncos that indicates he can be a franchise QB option than any other option since Manning retired, which leads us to the question — has he shown us enough to say he’s the guy going forward?

Vic Fangio stated before Lock’s first start that the team would not make any rash decisions based on five games, but it’s clear that Lock has every tool required of the quarterback position, and he’s got the entire roster behind him.

Maybe it’s just the fact that the Broncos have been so starved for strong quarterback play, but I don’t think it’s out of bounds to suggest that Lock is the most talented quarterback the Broncos have had in town since Jay Cutler and he’s the best overall prospect in terms of arm talent, intangibles, athleticism, and college experience they’ve had since John Elway.

Lock is proving in short order that he can not only hang with NFL talent — he’s elevating the Broncos’ offense to heights we haven’t seen in, well, a really long time.

Prior to Lock taking over as the starting quarterback, the offense was bordering on lifeless. Joe Flacco and Brandon Allen combined for nine touchdowns and seven interceptions. Flacco threw six touchdown passes in eight games.

Lock has five touchdowns in two games.

His touchdown percentage — five touchdown passes on 55 pass attempts — has given him a touchdown percentage of 9.1 percent in two games. There was no question Lock showed at Missouri he was a possible franchise quarterback, and to this day, it doesn’t make sense that he fell to the 10th pick of the second round.

Lock’s football IQ is off the charts. He’s a natural-born leader. He’s charismatic, charming, interesting, and he has every football skill you would look for with coachable weaknesses.

He apparently stayed up at all hours of the night mimicking having plays called into his helmet. He used virtual reality and a camera on Joe Flacco’s helmet to take practice reps for months.

Lock proved on Sunday against the Texans by spreading the ball to just about every active receiver, tight end, or back on the roster that he is not only capable of running the Broncos’ offense well, he’s seeing the field well and making good decisions.

Even when he doesn’t make good decisions, Lock doesn’t seem rattled and comes back out firing when he gets the ball again.

He’s making plays on third down and in the red zone. He’s fitting the ball into tight windows. His accuracy improved dramatically from his first to his second start. The Broncos have an opportunity now to let Lock grow with offensive coordinator Rich Scangarello and the weapons around him on offense.

The counter-argument to all of this is, well what about when defenses get more film on Lock?

To that I would ask, what about when Lock gets more time with his teammates? What about when Lock gets more confidence in the offense and his ability to run it?

It’s not like the Broncos are never going to lose another game, although I hope they win out to end 2019. It’s not like Lock is never going to have to explain why he made certain decisions he did that potentially led to a loss.

The honeymoon phase will not last forever, but the Broncos have a strong enough foundation in two games to build off of for the future.

The quarterback position is not a need for the Broncos.

Not in my mind.

In the NFL, picking a quarterback to build around always involves some level of faith or belief in something you haven’t yet seen. Even when the Broncos signed Peyton Manning, I remember a large section of Broncos Country that hated the move because Manning had five neck procedures and was apparently past his prime.

If building around a young quarterback in the NFL requires that you put some faith in a guy, how could you choose someone other than Drew Lock at this point? Regardless of what happens in the next three games, Lock has shown enough to prove himself worthy of being the guy the team builds around for the future.

When was the last time the Broncos had a quarterback and offensive coordinator end one season together and begin the next together? And Trevor Siemian doesn’t count, because he was in camp competitions both times.

The Broncos need to (continue to) build their offense around Drew Lock. They need to invest in the guy they were fortunate to be able to land in the first place.

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With almost $67 million in cap space before any decisions are made with possible cap casualties and five selections in the top 100 of the 2020 NFL Draft, the Broncos have prime assets to build around a young quarterback, and that guy is finally on the roster.