5 Bones to Pick With Drew Lock Skeptics

Chad Jensen

If you espouse optimism in Drew Lock and assert any sort of confidence that the Denver Broncos have finally found their franchise quarterback, you’re bound to get push-back. The national perspective likes to point to Lock’s five-game sample size as a reason to warrant caution.

Some of those same pundits want to pump the brakes on the excitement around Lock only to then profess a preference for the first-round quarterbacks taken in the 2020 NFL Draft, none of whom have played a single snap yet in the pros and thus, have no sample size.

The truth is, we have a vast sample size with which to analyze Lock. He was a four-year starter in the SEC after all.

Some act as if we learned absolutely nothing from Lock’s five-game debut last season. Like he didn’t move the needle at all from the day he was drafted in the second round by the Broncos.

What emerges more often than not is a bias people try to protect and hide. There were a lot of NFL media who panned Lock as a 2019 draft prospect and didn’t view him as a first-round caliber quarterback.

Those same people, in light of Lock out-performing so many of his quarterback brethren from the 2019 class, would rather double-down on their skepticism of his talents rather than eat a little crow and admit they were wrong. It isn’t difficult to pick out those types.

Even now, a large swath of you reading this article are clinging to the ‘but it was only five games!’ refrain. Let me tell you why your misgivings are unfounded and give you five reasons to fully embrace the excitement you feel for Lock, all of which will help if you encounter a Lock skeptics in the wild. They're out there. 

1. He's a Winner

There is such a thing as quality over quantity. In five starts, Lock went 4-1. For contrast, Kyler Murray started all 16 games as a rookie. He flashed at times and showed growth. But the best he could muster was a winning percentage of .313. Atrocious.

Daniel Jones in New York started 12 games but his winning percentage was even worse than Murray's at a god-awful .250. What about Minshew mania? Gardner Minshew at least at the tenacity to produce a .500 winning percentage in 12 starts for Jacksonville. Dwayne Haskins produced a paltry .285 winning percentage and struggled mightily to elevate a Redskins' roster facing a dearth of talent.

Meanwhile, Lock's winning percentage was the best among all rookie QBs last year — .800. It's absolutely crucial to point out that unlike any of his fellow 2019 rookie signal-callers, Lock's impact translated to the win column.

Don’t give me the ‘level of competition’ argument. If you want to argue that Lock benefited from having to face the Detroit Lions and Oakland Raiders to close out the season, then you also have to deduct points from the Offensive Rookie of the Year, who was given a last-place schedule and opened the 2019 season with a middle-of-the-road strength of schedule.

What’s good for the goose is good for the gander. NFL quarterbacks can only play the schedule they’re given. Lock beat two feisty Division rivals, the eventual AFC South-champion Houston Texans, and a really bad Lions squad, while losing to the Kansas City Chiefs in one of the worst ‘conditions’ games the Broncos have played in the last decade.

In each of Lock’s four victories, he found different ways to win. That distinction is one of the reasons fans should be so excited about him.

2. Production 

Lock finished with 1,020 passing yards, a completion percentage of 64.1 and a TD-to-INT ratio of 7-to-3. Extrapolate those numbers over the course of an entire season and Lock was on pace to produce 3,264 passing yards, 22 touchdowns and about 10 picks.

Transcendent numbers? No. More than solid for a rookie? You bet your hindquarters, especially in light of Lock playing for a first-time coordinator who was fired following the season, as well as a first-time quarterbacks coach.

With Pat Shurmur stepping in as offensive coordinator and Mike Shula as his new position coach, imagine what Lock could accomplish in Year 2, especially in the spread system, which, let's just say, is very comfortable for him.

3. Leadership 

One of the most pleasantly surprising aspects of Lock’s rookie debut was how quickly he commanded the respect of his teammates. For veterans, most rookies, even quarterbacks, are best seen not heard. Lock played that role while he was Joe Flacco’s backup and on injured reserve.

But when the time came for Lock to step into the starter’s role, he dispensed with that meek posture and let his swagger and intensity hang out. It helped that he got results. The Broncos had only won three games all season when Lock stepped in with five games left to go. The team would finish 7-9.

Just last week, Justin Simmons said this about the ‘It’ factor Lock possesses and why the veteran safety is so excited about 2020.

"That's probably the thing I'm most excited about for this season," Simmons told Bleacher Report. "I know everyone says it, but he has—even in the locker room, behind the cameras and closed doors—he has this sense of, like, confidence but it's not cocky. It's just like 'watch and follow me' type of swag. That's just something that I've felt like the previous couple of years we've been there we just might not have had. Not even getting into the systems and all that stuff. But I haven't really felt that, I guess. I'm excited for Drew because he closed off the year on the right foot and I'm excited for him to start out the year, especially with the weapons that he has. I'm just excited." 

No matter who you ask in the Broncos locker room, bring up Lock’s name and you’ll get a smile. Lock has united a locker room that had spent the better part of the last four years literally in the doldrums. Not only has Lock given fans hope, his own teammates can’t help but feel confident and optimistic about what the future holds. Lock’s leadership style is effective, his swagger contagious.

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4. Football Intelligence Quotient

Perhaps because he played in a different scheme each year at Missouri, not many draftniks talked about his football IQ heading into the 2019 draft. However, despite utilizing the very wristband that garnered him the ‘Buzz Lightyear’ moniker from his teammates, everything about Lock’s rookie campaign spoke to his football intelligence.

Think back to Game 3 of the preseason. That version of Lock that looked a tad overwhelmed and pressing, compared to even the Week 13 version where he showed such poise, couldn’t have been more different. That was one of the disguised blessings he got from spending 11 weeks on IR.

It allowed him to learn and assimilate not just the playbook but life as a pro without the immediate demands of performing on gameday. During his 11-week exile, Lock went through each Broncos practice twice per day using the team’s virtual reality program and watched each session from the sideline.

As a result, he was able to hit the ground running when his number finally got called in Week 13. Are we talking about the second coming of Peyton Manning here? No. But if 2019 proved anything, it’s that Lock’s football intelligence quotient it considerable. Listen to Coach Shurmur who spoke about this very issue just last month. 

"I think he's got good football sense," Shurmur said. "He understands concepts, so when you talk about it—even though you're not watching him do it—you can watch the film and 'What would you do here based on this look? What is this look? Is it corner-cushion? Safety rotation? Linebacker location?' All the things that you need to see and talk about, he can talk about with great comfort. So that's the starting point." 

For a coach who’s yet to get hands on his starting quarterback thanks to a pandemic, that’s got to be comforting. It’s also worth mentioning that, unlike the last highly-drafted Broncos quarterback, football is Lock’s top priority. Nothing takes precedent over the game and his career, which is square one for every prospective franchise-caliber quarterback.

5. The Eye Test

I could go on and present more statistics or turn to advanced analytics to support my take here but at the end of the day, you already know the truth, even if you have some lingering doubts. As a Broncos fan and as a fan of the game, you know when you see a good quarterback.

The eye test is just as important as the other factors I’ve listed here today. You don’t need a degree from MIT and you don’t need to be a graduate of the Scouting Academy in order to recognize a good player when you see one.

Bottom Line

I could go through a pros and cons list from Lock’s Mile High Huddle scouting report on Lock but like you, I know what I saw; a very talented, surprisingly competent, strong-armed quarterback with intangible traits on the same level as his physical gifts.

If you’re still harboring misgivings, just let ‘em go. Jump in with both feet and hop on the Lock train. I won’t call it a ‘hype’ train because hype implies that it’s overblown or exaggerated.

If you need a little encouragement, just look at what the Broncos front office is saying about Lock by virtue of almost every offseason move it made this year.

General managers don’t invest untold millions and coveted premium-round draft picks to build the nest around a young quarterback unless they’re sure they’ve got the right guy. The Broncos did not flinch when it came to building the nest around Lock, so whatever skepticism is left in your mind about Lock, if any, allow that fact to bridge the gap.

Lock is the truth. Embrace it. Get fully behind your guy. This time, you won’t be disappointed. 

Follow Chad on Twitter @ChadNJensen and @MileHighHuddle.

Comments (41)
No. 1-10
Denver_guy
Denver_guy

Funny that you site college yet say he’s a winner when he was a loser in college. I know you don’t like honesty and so you say 4-1 in 5 different ways and make it sound like it’s a different argument. Facts are this, he played 3 dreadful teams and 2 good ones. He wasn’t particularly good in the final 4 games just throwing 2 touchdowns. Yes the team won, yes he was there, no he didn’t do enough to only receive praise. If Shelby doesn’t get his big hand up Denver is 3-2 with lock and your entire argument out the window based off a play that has nothing to do with lock. Maybe he will be great, maybe not, but discarding everyone who’s honest as a hater just makes you sound like a massive homer(yes I know you are).

PM13
PM13

These justifications don’t even hold that much water. He’s unproven but has potential. That’s about the best way to put it. The best argument above is his leadership because he was statistically underwhelming. Put him on the Giants, Jags, Cardinals or Skins and the win % won’t be much different. Your argument about the O-ROY needing to lose points is shallow at best. While it is true that he was 4-1, and wins are the end game, he beat the Raiders, Chargers, Lions and a team that is GMed and coached by Bill O’Brien. The ‘conditions’ in Kansas City were the same for both teams and it wasn’t competitive. Don’t anoint him after 5 games, he’s unproven but has potential.

17 Replies

PM13
PM13

At this point in his career, Drew Lock is a passenger on the bus not the driver.

Chilly303
Chilly303

Drew Lock is driving it, apparently, if his teammates are to be believed.

I hear about "potential" with QB's drafted a few years back, outside of Jackson, from last year.... and this year definitely as none have played a single NFL game.

Against the Texans, Drew Lock passed for 309 yards with 3 TD's and a pick. How did highly regarded QB's do against the Texans? Brady, 326 yards with 3 TD's and 1 interception in a loss. Jackson, 222 yards and 4 TD's. Mahomes, 273 yards with 3 TD's and an interception in a loss. Ryan, 330 yards with 3 TD's and a pick in a loss. Rivers, 318 yards and 2 TD's in a loss. Brees, 370 yards and 2 TD's.

Lock's performance compares well with those performances listed above. Lock was 1 of 3 in that comparison to come out a winner.

PM13
PM13

You are cherry picking a single game.

vs Chargers 134yds 2TD INT
vs Raiders 177yds 1TD
vs Lions 192yds 1TD
vs Chiefs 208yds 1INT

He only threw for 204yds/game with 1.4TD/ game.

Again, unproven but with potential.

Chilly303
Chilly303

You brought up the Texans, I followed up with how Lock did against them, in his first road start at that, compared to hjghly regarded QB's the Texans played. Like for like in the comparison. The week before the Chiefs game, Brady didn't look much better than Lock in a home loss to KC. A few weeks before the Lions game, Cousins wasn't much more effective against them. In fact, Lock's only ineffective game was against the Chiefs.

You choose to see what you want to see. That's fine. I saw a guy who didn't practice from the middle of preseason to the middle of November, started the week he was activated from IR and finally, then, got first team reps, and do well considering. He was sacked 5 times (Allen and Flacco were at 3 or more per game on average) and he didn't really look flustered or not under control.

I'd say there's more than just potential with Lock. He has room to grow, certainly, but he deserves credit for what he's done so far with the opportunity he's been given.

PM13
PM13

Go back and read my original post and you’ll actually see that I mentioned each team he started against. (Actually didn’t even mention the Texans by name, referred to them as the ‘team that is GMed and coached by Bill O’Brien) You are the one that selected only the Texans. Also not quite sure I would go as far as to say throwing for 177yds in a 16-15 win over the Raiders as effective. That falls more into the category of he played in the game and the team found a way to win. You will also see that I said he has potential twice in my original post. Not even trying to run him down just think people need to slow down a little bit.

Mc Dad
Mc Dad

Lol this is why you guys actually gotta watch the games. He had over 120 yards by half time in basically every game he played in. Theres a reason his OC got fired buddy. He was WAY too conservative, which u know leads to his stats not being good. And u said put him on the other teams and see his winning percentage. Buddy u realize the broncos had a worse record than the cards and lions when lock came in right? and like one more win than the redskins and giants? I swear yall say anything u want lookin at the stat sheet

Denver_guy
Denver_guy

When a player has a good and 120 isn’t even good , first half and poor second half, that’s called adjustments. Defenses adjusted and lock did not

Mc Dad
Mc Dad

Bro do you have any common sense my g. 120 yards in a half for a rookie qb who never threw to his receivers with literally no offensive weapons but sutton? who was getting almost tripled by that time? and dude the OC has to adjust not lock lmao. he cant do jack shit if the OC calls a HB dive on a 3rd and 9. Cmon man i aint saying hes gonna play like 2013 peyton manning, but stop acting like hes playing like trubisky last year sheesh

PM13
PM13

Lock vs Trubisky

Season Averages
Lock 204 yds/game 1.4 TD/game
Trubisky 196 yds/ game 1.06 TD/game

Last 5 games of season
Lock 204 yds/game 7 TD 3INT
Trubisky 256 yds/game 7TD 4INT

Last 5 opponents
Lock (4-1) Raiders(W), Chargers(W), Texans(W), Lions(W), Chiefs(L)
Trubisky (3-2) Vikings(W), Packers(L), Cowboys(W), Lions(W), Chiefs(L)

Since you brought it up, there isn’t much of a difference.

Chilly303
Chilly303

I used the Texans as a comparison for a few reasons. Of the 5 teams Lock faced, the Texans played against the most top tier QB's, so comparing the performance of seasoned vets to that of Lock against the same D makes sense. It was also the only game he was allowed to be more than conservative.

Since that didn't fit your narrative, I then highlighted the performance Brady had in a home loss to KC the week before the Broncos played the Chiefs and that of Cousins a few weeks before the Broncos played the same opponent, the Lions. In that game, Lock had a 75% completion rate. And no, the Chiefs didn't have a garbage defense. Towards the end of the season, the Chiefs D was playing as well as most top rated defenses.

PM13
PM13

Using the Texans as a comparison is fair and a good comparison. But your statement that you used the Texans because I specifically brought them up is false. I mentioned each of his games and used his season performance as a barometer not just a single game. My ‘narrative’ which again is essentially my original post is that he was statistically underwhelming, his leadership is at this point his most recognizable trait and that he is unproven but has potential.

Mc Dad
Mc Dad

Aight last 5 games mahomes played in the reg season, he had 7 Tds, 3 INT, 1223 yards, 94.9 QBR and a 66 percentage completion percentage

Lock: 7Tds. 3 INT, 1020 yards, 89.7 QBR, 64.1 %

Wanna give him the MVP award for 2020?

He didnt throw to his receivers at all till like a week before his first game, his team was shit when he came in and yet he still found a way to win and you very conveniently used just the trubisky comparison and ignore the fact that he had zero offense outside of sutton, which i realize is hard for you to comprehend, but lemme say SHIT, his OC was conservative as hell which also means, once again I feel like im getting a lil repetitive so I really hope you start catching on now, his stats wont AND had no chance of being at a stage where he throws like 400 yards a game like your expecting.

I mean cmon dawg stop being slow ik your smart. I understand saying you cautious about him being some sort of MVP, nah man i dont expect, and i doubt a majority of realists expect that. Just franchise QB/Top 15 QB play which shouldnt be hard

PM13
PM13

This may be semantics, but Lock began practicing prior to the week 11 game vs Vikings, which means he got 3 weeks of practice prior to game action. (Yes, I know it’s still not a lot) As far as the Trubisky comparison, you are the one that originally brought his name into it, I just conveniently showed their stats aren’t that different. (Don’t think the Bears have a lot of firepower outside of Robinson at WR)

Actually think our expectations for him are similar, think he has potential (which I have mentioned several times)to be a quality nfl starting QB for awhile that will have some good years and some pedestrian years. I just think he is being anointed as the next coming and he hasn’t done anything yet to deserve that.

Mc Dad
Mc Dad

3 weeks of practice is def not enough lmao. Theres a reason theres a few months of OTA's and training camp and pre season games before the actual season starts

And you seem to be taking everything serious bruh chill, I was just pulling out a name of a random qb i thought of thats bad and trubisky popped up. Just cuz trubisky last 5 game stats are similar to mahomes its not like the chiefs would go back in time and rather draft trubisky.

And the point of this little article was to show how lock isnt garbage like 50% of the people say. the other 45% which are most broncos fans expectations of him to be around a top 15 maybe top 10 qb. And theres a cool 5% that think hes gonna win the MVP. The only reason i responded to your comment was cuz you brought up his stats to say he wasnt that good and i was just trying to tell you how he literally didnt have one good thing going for him to be statistically godly.

PM13
PM13

All good brother, actually not taking this that serious, I’m just really into stats/analytics. I enjoy a good conversation/debate. (Don’t like all the name calling that can happen)

As I said in my prior comment I think our expectations for him are similar. A top 15 QBs is a good and fair expectation and in line with my thoughts. But in no way do I think he’s no good, I think he has plenty of potential. I initially attempted to use his stats to prove that point, (the statistical comparison to Trubisky withstanding) that he has potential but he’s not there yet. This may be a case of the vocal majority (the 5% as you say) being the loudest voice in places like this. I hope you’ll take a quick minute to go back and read my posts, mentioned several times he has potential w/out saying he wasn’t any good. If I thought he sucked i’d just flat out say it.

I also think the author of this article went too wide in his defense of Lock which left it as a weaker defense than it could/should be.

JustAnOldSoldier
JustAnOldSoldier

That's weird. I had the misconception that the coach was supposed to make adjustments. Not the rookie QB

Chilly303
Chilly303

Lock didn't practice with the starters until the week before his first start. Once he was able to practice, in mid November, he was taking reps with backups. Not the guys he would primarily play with.

Burrow's been hyped coming out of college for setting records, and he deserves it. He broke Lock's records. Yet, Burrow had a 1st round receiver and a 1st round back supporting him, along with another receiver who'll likely be the top rated receiver in college this coming season and an OL likely playing on Sundays. I believe the best Lock had was Albert O., and McGovern for a year. The Broncos did Lock a solid, built up the talent at his disposal, so he's not just good, but possibly a great QB.

Passing yards aren't a great indicator of how good a QB is, or how successful a team will be. Winston passed for over 5100 yards, but he's not a name synonymous with great QB's, or even successful QB's. Of the top 5 passing yardage QB's, 3 were on losing teams, 1 on a .500 team, and the other on a 9-7 team. None were in the playoffs. Jackson averaged 4 more passing yards per game than Lock and Josh Allen 11 yards less per game, and their teams did make the playoffs. Jackson was MVP, in part due to his rushing numbers, and Allen's being touted as the key to success in Buffalo's future. His completion percentage was over 5% lower than Lock. Stats are great, and nice to use in discussions, but they're not the best indicator of how good a player is or will be.

Studlee14
Studlee14

Scangarello was a terrible play caller for the Broncos. Lock's "mediocre" stats have a lot to do with his OC not giving him chances/putting the team in bad positions. I also still believe he should have been the starter week 7 after he was cleared medically (or not even put him on IR in the first place) but the team chose to hide him. Anyone who actually watched Lock saw ups and downs, but consistent growth from game to game (even though the stats dont show that). Abraham Lincoln once said that there are 3 types of lies: lies. Damned Lies. Statistics. The eye test means more than many give it credit for

broncofan55555
broncofan55555

I would also mention the fact that Lock raised all ships, especially the OL. This team was an emotional mess by the time Lock took over because the confidence had been beat out of them. Lock turned this team around emotionally. I would mention as well that the team leader, Von Miller, called Lock a "rock star." That's a pretty good endorsement.

Wdcol3
Wdcol3

What I saw in his playing time last year was similar to a young Elway or Farve. Still has a lot to learn, but he’s a play maker that’s not afraid to take chances. I’ll take him over any of the game manager types of QB we’ve had over the last few years.

Vertcal Stripes
Vertcal Stripes

Really like you article Chad but I would drop #1 as a reason for optimism. If memory is correct, Peyton went 3 and 13 his first year in the league. You make a great point about the Broncos seeing what we all saw and going ALL in. I don't think they would have if they weren't very sure of what they have at QB. Block for him and have him learn to protect himself when outside the pocket and I think we're going to have some fun football to watch!

rogue719
rogue719

And Peyton Manning went 3-13 his rookie year. I don't expect Lock to be Peyton Manning by the time his career is done, but I want a little bit of pragmatism. Lock played well given that, when the team was down, he inspired better play. This was a team that had lost multiple very close games that came down to one or two plays (or in the case of Chicago, one bad ref call and a play) and, watching the games, there was no doubt that the offense questioned it's ability to do even the simple things against other teams. When Lock played, for the first time of the season, I watched a team pull together. Yep, the KC game sucked, but there were lots of reasons for that, very few of which fall entirely on Lock's shoulders.

Here is my bottom line: Teams win games. Teams lose games. The Broncos looked like a better team with Lock under center, and shows signs of learning from his mistakes. Give him better weapons and coaching and see where he takes us.

Jimrichard
Jimrichard

Some folks like to be cautious so they don't feel let down or feel foolish later while others of us prefer to believe in what might be. I feel Lock is the best most exciting prospect we have had in years. He has those certain qualities of athleticism, playmaking ability and leadership that gives everyone optimism. And now he has more weapons and a year under his belt. Plenty of reasons to believe in the Broncos being fun to watch again. Be as cautious as you want I think we are going to have a really exciting season.

CUBuffinTX
CUBuffinTX

What does not get mentioned a lot is the fact Lock had more juice from the draft community as a junior then he did as a senior. Several of the draft pundits had Lock with a high probability to be the first overall pick if he stayed in school (which he obviously did) He show flashes of brilliance, along with some what was that. That is called being a young QB. We are going to find out what he really is. I was one of the first passengers on the Lock train back when there were not many of us on board. I am excited to see what the kid has in his bag.

RBA
RBA

Now if he can only stay healthy. Trouble with getting excited about a player is that so many get hurt with such regularity. Last stat Ii saw had better than the chance of a player eing hurt is over 100%. Hurt defined as having to miss practices or games. And before a math major attacks, by 100% it is meant if there ar 50 players there will be more than 50 injuries.


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