Broncos: Top 11 takeaways from George Paton’s pre-free agency presser

Denver Broncos safety Justin Simmons. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
Denver Broncos safety Justin Simmons. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports /
11 of 11
Drew Lock, Denver Broncos
Denver Broncos QB #3 Drew Lock. Mandatory Credit: Troy Babbitt-USA TODAY Sports /

11. Team still believes in Drew Lock

Let’s look at what both George Paton and Vic Fangio had to say about Drew Lock. The last time we heard from Paton, he had not yet done an in-depth review of Lock’s 2020 game tape.

Now, he has.

The first question he was asked was about his evaluation of Lock and whether the team is looking to bring in a veteran to “challenge” him. The second question was about traits and characteristics he is looking for in evaluating quarterbacks.

"I did a deep drive on Drew. Like I said in my [introductory] press conference, [he’s] very talented. He was inconsistent at times and has a lot to work on, but I’ve spoken with Drew. I see him every day. He’s here early and he’s working. He really wants to be great. We’re always going to try and bring in competition to every position, the quarterback as well. I like the trek that Drew is on. I haven’t seen Drew live on the field. I’ve just seen the tape. There is so much that goes into that when evaluating a quarterback. I like to see them live. You’d like to see them in critical situations. You like to see the accuracy. How is he with his teammates? What is the leadership like? Again, I can’t give you three things. There is so much involved in evaluating quarterbacks. I look forward to evaluating Drew further and in person. He does have all of the traits you look for in a quarterback. GM George Paton (via Broncos PR)"

That last statement says plenty.

There are so many arguments these days on Broncos Twitter about Drew Lock that have become vile and toxic. It’s a shame things have gotten to that level, but it’s clear that what’s been reported is not just coachspeak — the Broncos do like Drew Lock and they’re not simply looking to cut bait as quickly as possible for the next alternative or stopgap.

Paton’s comments hold a ton of weight here because he did not draft Lock and is seeing him with fresh eyes. Vic Fangio, however, is not seeing Lock with fresh eyes per se, but he is seeing Lock through Paton’s eyes for the first time.

Now that he’s not working directly with John Elway on this sort of decision and Paton is the man in charge of the roster, what are Fangio’s thoughts on Lock?

"I’m confident that Drew’s going to continue to improve. Drew has had a great offseason up to this point. There’s not a lot you can do, but he’s working hard on his own and coming over here and getting workouts. I know he’s doing a lot at home by himself and watching video by himself. He’s got a good setup over there. He’s doing anything and everything he can to improve, even in February and now in March. I feel like he’ll continue to improve. As it relates to the quarterback carousel that everybody’s talking about going around the league, we’ll see how it turns out. Right now, it’s just a lot of rumors and innuendoes and everybody proposing this and that. I really don’t know what’s going to happen with some of the names that are being bandied about out there. HC Vic Fangio (via Broncos PR)"

So, George Paton — the team’s general manager —  likes the “trek” Drew Lock is on and said he has “all of the traits you look for” in a quarterback. Vic Fangio said he is confident that Lock is going to continue to improve, which implies that he feels he has already shown improvement.

It’s critical to remember that Lock is still a young player who has only played really 17 games in the NFL. He has had to deal with multiple injuries, COVID-19, a change in offensive scheme and philosophy, and plenty else.

It’s a shame he wasn’t an MVP candidate in his second year like everyone else seems to be these days, but the fact that he wasn’t doesn’t mean he’s not going to “continue to improve” and prove that he can be a franchise guy.

Speaking of, it’s also not unfair to say that Lock hasn’t proven that yet. Fangio said as much.

"We’re always looking to bring in players at all positions that can raise the level of competition, and the quarterback is no different in that regard. Until we get—or until Drew proves to be the next great quarterback like the ones that the Denver franchise has been used to in years past or the ones certain teams around the league have, you guys know where they are and are used to, we’re going to always try and bring in competition. But I have confidence that Drew can continue to improve. HC Vic Fangio (via Broncos PR)"

No option at quarterback is or should be off the table at this point. Drew Lock would not be exempt from competition or from the Broncos pursuing upgrades with guys like Matthew Stafford being made available, or possibly Russell Wilson or Deshaun Watson.

If those trades are not to be made, free agency will require the Broncos to be creative about adding a certain type of player with the ability to actually help the Broncos win if he wins the starting job but also just to push Drew Lock at the very least.

One way or another, the Broncos weren’t talking about Lock in the past tense. They weren’t speaking doom and gloom over his 2020 film.

Lock hasn’t proven to be the next great Denver quarterback yet, but one day at a time, he’s putting in the work and it’s being noticed.