The summer of anticipation for Drew Lock and the Denver Broncos offense has begun. After sports personalities such as Colin Cowherd heaped praise and hype onto the Broncos’ second-year quarterback, many covering the league have been using this offseason to analyze the Broncos' new-look offense assembled by John Elway to surround his quarterback.
NFL.com's Jeffri Chadiha is the next to cast some optimism on Lock in year two. Chadiha shared his outlook for Lock and the Broncos in 2020, along with several other writers on the weekly ‘Press Coverage’ article that discusses NFL sophomores who were poised to take a big leap in 2020.
With Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray and New York Giants quarterback Daniel Jones already 'off the board', Chadiha talked about Lock’s upside and the nest that the Broncos have built around him over the past few seasons.
“In a league filled with so many talented young quarterbacks, you can't find anybody spending more time in the shadows these days than Denver's Drew Lock. I know, I know -- it's risky to gamble on John Elway finally getting his offensive issues figured out. However, I can't help being impressed by all the talent he's given his second-year signal-caller.
The Broncos already had a budding Pro Bowl talent in wide receiver Courtland Sutton. They also had a running back who's opened his career with two 1,000-yard rushing seasons (Phillip Lindsay) and a speedy tight end who was their first-round selection last year (Noah Fant). But then Elway spent this offseason acquiring running back Melvin Gordon and two more dynamic wide receivers in rookies Jerry Jeudy and KJ Hamler? Come on, man! The Broncos still have to prove they can block consistently up front, but Lock has to be able to do some serious damage with that bunch.
And in terms of leaps, I'm guessing Lock can grow a lot more than Kyler Murray. Lock only attempted 156 passes while playing in five games in 2019. The best number during that stretch for him: Denver's four wins. That small sample size of success must have made Elway giddy, because the general manager was smart enough to mimic Andy Reid's blueprint for Patrick Mahomes in Kansas City. Take a talented quarterback, give him a bunch of weapons and wait for the fun to begin.”
Chadiha does throw a bit of ‘shade’ towards Elway in regards to the former's inability to find a quarterback and cultivate an offense, implying that Manning deserves more credit for the Broncos’ offensive output during the Peyton years than Elway did as the general manager.
The truth is, Elway has missed on some swings at quarterback, but there is as much realistic hope for Lock than any home-grown quarterback in Denver since Jay Cutler.
The NFL world is really starting to pay attention to Sutton as well, who has made some incredible highlight-reel catches over his first two seasons. Sutton, surrounded by Fant, Jeudy, and Hamler, should give Denver some incredible looks from 11 personnel in 2020.
Even if the passoing game isn’t working for Lock on a particular day, he can lean on his running back tandem of back-to-back 1,000-yard rusher Phillip Lindsay and Melvin Gordon. However, it’s not all sunshine and rainbows as Chadiha does cast some doubt onto the Broncos’ ability along the offensive line.
He wouldn’t be alone, as many throughout Broncos Country have voiced their concerns over the collection of talent along the offensive front. True, the Broncos do have one of the better offensive line coaches in football in Mike Munchak, along with a solid interior offensive line.
But until it’s shown to be improved on the field, the offensive tackle position will continue to trigger misgivings. It may become Elway’s new 'Well, he just can’t draft quarterbacks' narrative if neither of Garett Bolles and Ja’Wuan James pan out this season.
The optimism surrounding Lock and the Broncos’ offense is both realistic as well as optimistic. If everything goes right, the offense can stay healthy, and Lock becomes the guy everyone hopes he can be, perhaps the Broncos will be back in their high-flying ways and putting up points.
The Broncos are going to need that level of play to keep up with Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs. It is probably more likely the Broncos will be a bit up and down in 2020, showing mouth-watering electricity on offense from time-to-time, while also just seeming out of sync at others.
The highs and lows should be expected with the highs hopefully becoming more and more frequent with the lows less and less as the season marches on. The NFL loves Mahomes and deservedly so.
The Chiefs put up big, exciting plays and nothing is more marketable than a toolsy gunslinger. The only thing better than one young gun in an AFC division is two, and national voices like Chadiha believe that just may happen for Lock and the Broncos.