Football is the ultimate team sport. Sure, quarterback is the singular most important position in sports, but every year, great overall rosters raise up mediocre (or worse) signal-callers to great team success.
While that success may only be a blip of a season before crashing back to the mean, a good overall roster in one single season can make some noise if the chips fall the right way.
Tallying the NFL’s current rosters heading into the draft, Pro Football Focus ranked the Denver Broncos as the sixth-best in the entire NFL. Now, this doesn’t mean that Denver will end up being the sixth-best team (given the weight and value of quarterback play they wouldn’t commit to actually being 6th best).
Denver would be even higher if we removed quarterbacks from the equation. The Broncos secondary might be the best in the NFL, with Kyle Fuller and Ronald Darby on the outside, Bryce Callahan in the slot and Justin Simmons and Kareem Jackson at the two safety spots.
Unfortunately, Drew Lock has yet to show much in the way of promise. He is one of the three-lowest-graded passers over the last couple of seasons, while no quarterback in the NFL has thrown uncatchable balls at a higher rate.
Will things change on draft day? Only time will tell, but it is worth noting that the three most likely Broncos picks at this moment, according to DraftKings Sportsbook, are North Dakota State quarterback Trey Lance (+200), Penn State linebacker Micah Parsons (+400) and Alabama quarterback Mac Jones (+600).
At this point, the Lock conversation has been beaten to death among Denver Broncos fans. The facts are, Lock was subjected to another new offensive scheme last year in a pandemic-influenced offseason.
Denver had one of the youngest offenses in the NFL, and a myriad of injuries. Most of the injuries were on the defensive side of the ball, but losing No. 1 wideout Courtland Sutton was notable.
However, for every valid excuse Lock had, he still underperformed. He struggled to protect the football right at the top of the league leaders in turnovers-per-play from the quarterback position alongside Carson Wentz, and sported the worst completion percentage over expected (CPOE) in the NFL by a significant margin, an advanced statistic Lock struggled with in college as well.
Lock had excuses, but looking around the league it’s important to note that every team has its fair share of adversity to deal with every season. Were the circumstances surrounding Lock the 'reasons' for his bottom-5 quarterback play in 2020, or are they simply 'excuses' for a below-average signal-caller?
That remains to be seen and just how GM George Paton feels about Lock will be revealed in the first round of the NFL draft. Even if the Broncos roll with Lock playing at a sub-par level next season, PFF still likes the overall roster makeup.
What the Broncos will do in the draft and the quarterback position remains to be seen, but given the overwhelming talent on both sides of the ball, the team's limiting reagent on just how far this team can go falls squarely on the quarterback position. If Lock takes off and becomes even just a mid-level quarterback in the NFL this season, this Broncos team could make some noise and return to the playoffs this season.
If not, the Broncos may find themselves in a tough place one year from now. Here’s to hoping for the best!
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