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  • The former Missouri QB felt good about the possibility of being drafted by Denver, but he just wasn’t sure when. Turns out, the team traded up to make sure he became a Bronco.
By Jenny Vrentas
April 27, 2019

NASHVILLE — When Drew Lock came down to the lobby of the players’ hotel on Friday evening before the start of the second round of the 2019 NFL draft, he was wearing just a T-shirt. He figured he was just going with his friends and family to wait for a phone call at the local headquarters of his agency, CAA. Wisely, Lock’s mom recommended he change.

The former Missouri QB was one of five draft invitees left in the green room at the end of Round 1 on Thursday night. When your wait extends past the first round, there’s no playbook. It was a good thing Lock slipped on a gray blazer before leaving on Friday, because he’d end up having his moment on stage—one day later than he’d expected.

“It added a whole lot of chips to the shoulder,” Lock said of the wait. “It’s more like a full Pringles bottle. There’s a lot of chips in it.”

The Broncos traded down in the first round, moving from 10 to 20 in an exchange with Pittsburgh, then selected former Iowa tight end Noah Fant. On Friday, Lock was in a broadcast room at CAA’s office, when Denver went on the clock again with pick No. 41. He stared at his phone for the entire duration the Broncos were on the clock, because he’d had a good top 30 visit with team brass, not to mention that he fits the John Elway QB prototype (tall, mobile, big arm). When his phone didn’t ring—and Kansas State tackle Dalton Risner’s name was announced as the pick instead—“it was literally like all the emotions ran out of you,” Lock said.

He was getting ready to walk away, because he didn’t think the Bengals, who had the next pick, were going to draft a quarterback. Then he heard over the broadcast that the Broncos had traded up into pick No. 42. He looked down, and he saw a Denver area code on his phone.

Lock’s situation was indicative of the difficulty in pegging where the quarterbacks in this year’s class would be drafted. He had an idea that the team who took him would be Denver, but not when that call would come. Lock was a four-year starter at Missouri, and played for three different offensive coordinators, experience he thought NFL teams would see as valuable. Some evaluators, on the other hand, saw him as the fourth QB well behind Kyler Murray, Daniel Jones and Dwayne Haskins, all of whom went in the top 15 picks, and expressed some uncertainty about whether he could carry a team.

The Broncos believe he can be—or, at least, eventually be—a catalyst for the cadre of young skill players they are assembling in Denver, after learning behind Joe Flacco until he’s ready to take the field. The Broncos have to like that he’s less of a project than doomed former first-round pick Paxton Lynch, and that he carries what seems to be a self-assured confidence—plus that can of Pringles on his shoulder.

After Thursday night’s snub, Lock went back to his hotel and sat on his bed with his family and friends. On Friday, “the sun came up,” he said, “and I’m a Denver Bronco.”

Notes from the Second and Third Rounds

• Jawaan Taylor was paired with the Jaguars at pick No. 7 in many mock drafts, so Jacksonville was thrilled to instead get the former Florida tackle with the No. 35 pick in the second round. Taylor admitted it was “a little devastating” not to hear his name called on Thursday night, but he chose to come back because “it shows good character.”

Taylor attributed his drop to medical concerns that he said caught him by surprise. There were reports leading up to the draft that teams had injury concerns about Taylor. He maintains he is “100% healthy” and said he never heard from teams leading up to the draft that they had any concerns about his medical history.

“[Thursday] night, right after the draft, I really found out the truth,” Taylor said. I had a feeling something was wrong. I did nothing wrong, but it is what it is.”

• How prototypical of a New England DB is Joejuan Williams? The former Vanderbilt cornerback, who stands 6' 4", 211 pounds, said Dont’a Hightower, the Patriots linebacker and fellow Tennessee native, made that same point to him a few days before the draft. “He expressed how big I was,” Williams said, “and that I would contribute well to the team.”

Williams fits into New England’s secondary as another player who can cover tight ends and bigger receivers, an aspect of playing defense that Bill Belichick mentioned in his pre-draft press conference as being particularly critical with the number of larger receivers entering the game (the Patriots drafted one of those receivers themselves, Arizona State’s N’Keal Harry, in the first round). The Patriots traded up because they saw Williams as a guy who fit both a need and, even more importantly, the way they want to play defense.

• Less than two miles from the main stage of the NFL Draft on First and Broadway in downtown Nashville is Napier Elementary School. More than 90% of the students at the school qualify for free lunch, and it is located in a food desert, with no quality grocery store within a mile. On Friday morning, about 30 current and former NFL players—among them Hightower, DeAndre Hopkins and Delanie Walker—visited the school, delivering backpacks full of food that were assembled at the Titans’ stadium on Wednesday with the prospects who were attending the NFL draft.

While in town, the NFL partnered with the Bridge Ministry, a local non-profit that addresses hunger in the Nashville area, which includes working with schools like Napier Elementary to provide backpacks of food for the weekends and stock a food pantry for parents. Some students eat every meal at school, or with food provided by the school.

“They live in a neighborhood that’s infested by crime,” says Walker, the veteran Titans tight end. “This school tries to do as much as possible to blind them from that and keep them safe, so if you can give back and help this school do what they’re doing, that’s positive, that goes a long way.”

Question or comment? Email us at talkback@themmqb.com.

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