Evaluating the Denver Broncos QB Options: Lock’s Last Stand?

Matthew Staffiero
Denver Broncos quarterback Drew Lock (3) calls out in third quarter against the Cincinnati Bengals at Empower Field at Mile High Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
Denver Broncos quarterback Drew Lock (3) calls out in third quarter against the Cincinnati Bengals at Empower Field at Mile High Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports /

The Denver Broncos enter yet another offseason looking for an answer to the same question they’ve asked themselves since the departure of Peyton Manning…Who is going to be the next franchise QB?

Denver has been tied to nearly every quarterback available or rumored to be available this off-season. However, I wanted to take a look at the QB that is on the roster, a QB who’s had a rather rocky start to his career — Drew Lock.

Lock’s tenure as the Denver Broncos QB has left a rather poor taste in the mouths of Broncos Country. While he’s shown flashes of incredible athletic ability. He’s also shown significant issues with footwork, accuracy, and concepts of running a pro-style offense.

Lock’s “potential” has bought him more time than most young QB’s taken in the second round. But can it buy him one more season? If so, what does he need to show this staff to establish the belief he has what it takes to be a viable option at QB for the Broncos past this season?

Let’s evaluate it.

Denver Broncos QB options: The Good…

Potential-Lock still provides Denver with Raw/Underdeveloped potential. Typically entering year four of a QB’s career we aren’t preaching potential. But.. It’s one of the best things Lock has going for him.

Athletic Abilities-Lock has the physical ability to make plays happen with his arm and occasionally with his legs. No one has ever entered a conversation with questions on Lock’s ability to make the throws necessary to be an NFL QB.

Lock’s natural abilities would appear on the surface to fit a Hackett Style West Coast offense like a glove. This would not be Lock’s first interaction with a West Coast Offense as he had a brief introduction his rookie season under Broncos OC Rich Scangarello. Lock was able to find some success under Scangarello leading to a 4-1 run his rookie season.

Familiarity with the roster-Lock has grown with most of his teammates dating back to the 2019 NFL Draft fellow rookies Noah Fant and Dalton Risner. He’s established a connection with WR’s Tim Patrick and Courtland Sutton. Lastly, he has an established connection with college team mate and now Broncos Tight End Albert Okwuegbunam.

Youth-Lock is entering his 4th season at the mere age of 25. Meaning by some miracle he can turn the trajectory of his career upward he could be a viable option for years to come..

The Bad…

Potential-As stated earlier a QB who is entering year four should have likely shed the untapped potential trait a season or two ago. Lock has had numerous opportunities to shed the Prospect or Developmental QB tags over the course of his first three seasons in the NFL. On top of numerous opportunities he had a QB battle with a below-average QB in Teddy Bridgewater.

Lock entered the battle as the incumbent starter and could not turn the tides of the competition in his favor.

Later in the 2021 season due to the unfortunate injury of Bridgewater; Lock had yet another chance to demonstrate his growth/development. Lock demonstrated some minor improvements but is it enough to garner another chance that is where I am at a difficult impasse.

Lock has shown he can have restraint and put a firm handle on his gunslinger ways of the previous season. However, it came out as flat and uninspiring. Maybe stagnant is a better word for the brief sample size we had this past season. Where the challenge from Lock is balance can he bridge the gap mentally from Gunslinger and Mr. Conservative? Can he find the balance in risk vs reward?

Turnovers-While we have seen a massive improvement in the small sample size of last season. One may not easily forget his league-leading turnovers from two seasons ago. Last season Lock shifted his mentality/play to a very conservative and careful approach an Interception from time to time is ok. We begin to ask ourselves can he bridge this gap as well. Can he rebound from a turnover? Can he stay out of his own head?

Playbook/Game Management-Can Drew manage a complete game in yet another system. Lock has been tagged with the difficult task of having to learn a new offense nearly every season dating back to his tenure at the University of Missouri. Can he overcome yet another obstacle and grasp this offense enough to effectively run it come game day.

With a new offense come new hot routes, identifiers, and so much more is he going to be able to align himself with these new adjustments and make the correct reads efficiently. In Hackett’s offense is Lock going to be able to find his natural rhythm and connect with his offensive weapons?

Footwork/Mechanics-Lock has a tendency to not fully set his feet and follow through with his throws leading to inaccuracy. It’s been one of the biggest hindrances in his career this far. Lock often relies on the strength of his arm to make those tight-window throws. They can occasionally but at this level, you have to trust your process and follow through with your projection. When Lock goes through the correct process he can thread it. But can he do this consistently…

Inconsistency-The is the tale of Lock’s career. Most of Broncos Country remembers Lock’s outstanding performance of Young Jeezy’s “Put On” one may question if it should have been Katy Perry’s “Hot and Cold” as it describes Lock’s tenure as a Denver Bronco perfectly.

Lock has put on memorable performances of both really good and really bad. It goes back to those flashes of dynamic physical ability only to be taken out by a terrible mental mistake/lapse of judgment. When Lock rolls out you never know if you’re going to get the Lock who can throw for 3+ TD’s and 300 yards or the one who comes in and tosses 3 INT’s there has yet to be a consistent middle ground.

Injuries-While this is one of the lesser concerns it should be noted that Lock has sustained an injury in each of his first three seasons in the NFL. Some minor and some he’s missed time for, should durability be labeled a concern at this stage.

Final Verdict:

Should Lock get a final stand to prove himself as the next great Broncos QB? In short, no. While he still has this well of untapped potential I don’t believe he’s demonstrated he deserves another shot without legitimate competition. Does the competition come from a QB the Broncos pursue via Free Agency like a Jameis Winston or a Rookie QB like Kenny Pickett.

In my gut, I feel like Lock is the last resort for Hackett and this offense. I firmly believe Denver will be in the pursuit of a veteran QB. With names like Aaron Rodgers, Deshaun Watson, and Russell Wilson being tossed around Broncos Country can only sit back and hope George Paton is on the line day in and out.

In hot pursuit of one of the big 3. If Denver misses its opportunity to obtain one of the elite could a Tier 2 QB like Carson Wentz or Jimmy Garoppolo be a target? They have to be but that’s a discussion topic for another day.