Denver Broncos: Is Staying With Drew Lock a Mistake?
After a busy offseason for the Denver Broncos, Drew Lock appears to still be the guy going into the 2021. The Broncos spent heavily on the secondary this spring. Cornerbacks Ronald Darby and Kyle Fuller will make their debuts this fall. Safety Kareem Jackson signed a one-year deal to return. Also safety Justin Simmons signed a record breaking contract last month. But the quarterback position wasn’t addressed and that’s ok.
The quarterback room remains unchanged as of now with Lock returning as the starter. Brett Rypien and Jeff Driskel will be backing him up. New Broncos general manager, George Paton, came in looking to improve all positions. Although Lock didn’t impress last season, the Broncos need to find out how much their quarterback can improve.
Lock is going into his third season but has only played in 18 games so far. He looked solid in his five appearances during his rookie season going 4-1, but year two was anything but. In his 13 games last season, Lock threw 16 touchdowns and 15 interceptions with a quarterback rating of 75.4. That won’t cut it in the NFL.
His biggest area of focus needs to be on decision making. He needs to show improvement on when and when not to take the big risk. He tries to force too many balls into areas and needs to know when to just throw the ball away. Not letting go of the ball led to multiple hits, which caused him to miss three games due to injuries.
The Broncos also don’t appear to be in position to grab a quarterback in the upcoming draft. Denver has the ninth pick with the first three picks almost sure to be quarterbacks. Despite five quarterbacks projected in the first round, it is highly unlikely one of them falls to nine. Even if one does fall to them, they shouldn’t take him.
The biggest reason the Broncos should hold off on drafting a quarterback this year is because of the coaching situation. Vic Fangio will not be the coach in 2022 if they have another losing season. Playing a rookie quarterback will almost guarantee you a bad season and now you’re onto your next coach who didn’t have a say in drafting the current quarterback.
For example, Sean Mcvay wasn’t around when the Rams traded up for Jared Goff. They did go to a super bowl but now Goff is with the Lions. Dwayne Haskins was released before the end of year two as he wasn’t a Ron Rivera guy. Matt Nagy became the head coach in Chicago the year after Mitchell Trubisky was taken. Bring in the coach and the quarterback at the same time.
The Broncos should be all in on Lock this year and use the ninth pick to help better a team that has a solid roster. With a rebuilt secondary, the defense looks to be very solid with Bradley Chubb and Von Miller rushing the quarterback. The offense is loaded with young talent at the skill positions with Jerry Jeudy, KJ Hamler, Tim Patrick, Noah Fant, and Courtland Sutton returning from an ACL injury.
Other than quarterback, Denver’s biggest needs include inside linebacker and offensive line. There will be some very nice options at nine especially for tackles. The Broncos signed left tackle Garret Bolles to a big extension but there are concerns at right tackle with Juwuan James. James only played in three games in 2019 and opted out of last season due to COVID. I don’t see him being with the team after 2021 unless he opts again this season, which then leaves a void to fill. This could be the time to gain depth on the offensive line to help give Lock time to throw the ball. Penei Sewell and Rashawn Slater both seem to be the real deal and at least one of them will be available with the ninth pick.
Inside linebacker is probably the team’s biggest need but also won’t directly correlate to Lock’s success this season. Micah Parsons is the wild card at linebacker this year. Picking a linebacker in the top 10 is rare these days and he has some mild off the field concerns.
The perfect scenario could be if a quarterback falls to them at nine. There is always that one team willing to jump the line and move up. There could be some possible suitors with Minnesota at 14, New England at 15, Washington at 19, and Chicago at 20. The Broncos could move back, gain much needed draft capital in the future, and still select a very good player in the top 15 or 20. Also that draft capital could be very valuable if the team is looking to make a trade for a quarterback next offseason should Lock not be in the Bronco’s plans.
Giving Lock the key this season is in the best interest of the team going forward. Paton is in his first year with the team and shouldn’t feel any pressure on fixing everything in year one. If Lock shows strides of improvement then they can keep on going with him into his fourth and final year of his rookie deal in 2022. If not, then they can move on from him after the season and address the position next year. Possibly with a new coach.
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You can follow Tyler Samsel on Twitter @tylersamsel.