Does Drew Lock 'Deserve the Hype'? One Broncos Player Thinks so
Drew Lock is entering his second training camp as a pro but it's his first as the unquestioned starting quarterback of the Denver Broncos. Last season, Lock had to take a backseat to the veteran starter Joe Flacco and only halfway through the preseason, the rookie injured his throwing thumb.
What ensued was an 11-week exile on injured reserve. But after Flacco's failure to lead the Broncos and subsequent season-ending neck injury, Lock went from IR to the starting lineup within about a 24-hour window in Week 13.
The rest, as they say, is history. During his five-game audition, Lock helped lead the Broncos to a 4-1 finish to what had been a 3-8 start. All-in, Denver finished the year 7-9 but with some real momentum.
GM John Elway said the Broncos had finally "bounced off the bottom" — implying that the days of wandering the QB desert and dwelling in the NFL doldrums were over. This is a team on the rise.
Or at least, the Broncos have all the markings of a team on the come. A young, dynamic QB, explosive skill-position players, a rebuilt offensive line, and a Pro Bowl duo at running back — combined with a veteran defensive-minded head coach and two of the best pass rushers in the game.
Fans got to see some of Lock's personality last year. Whether it was his cocksure and creative touchdown celebrations or the vision of him rapping Jeezy lyrics on the bench between series, Lock's charisma and pure joy of playing the game jumped off the screen for anyone paying attention.
Heading into his second training camp, Lock carries with him a new dynamic. He's the guy. Players will look to him to help set the tone and point the way forward.
Thus far, the early returns are positive on Lock. His teammates have been buzzing about him since training camp opened. One of the issues that's been addressed is the hype surrounding Lock, especially on the local level and within the fanbase. But the young QB has received his fair share of national hype as well.
“When it comes to Drew, I think he deserves the hype," left guard Dalton Risner said on Thursday. "He played five games last year and proved that he was about it. I think he has a lot more to prove this year, and I know Drew is going to step up to the plate and do that. He’s worked extremely hard off the field this year during the offseason, and since he’s shown up, I’ve seen more of a leadership side from Drew. I’m extremely excited to see what he does."
One word that is often mentioned by teammates any time Lock's name comes up is 'swag' — another way of saying that he has swagger or confidence. According to the Urban Dictionary, the word 'swag' means the new generation's alternative word for 'cool'.
“Drew has—I’ve always said Drew’s got swag," wideout Courtland Sutton said earlier this week. "Since he’s got his start, I’ve said that Drew’s got swag and y’all have seen it. He plays with a different type of swagger and we love to see it. It’s one of those things that you—when you’ve got that young energy around you, it feeds off. When it comes from your quarterback who everyone looks at as your leader, I think it brings a different juice, a different energy to everybody from not just the players but to the coaches as well."
Lock's 'swag' was pretty easy to see on the field and sidelines last year. Lock's charisma and ability to command a room and captive an audience was apparent during his press conference to open his time at Reese's Senior Bowl in January of 2019, as well as his time at the podium in Indianapolis at the NFL Scouting Combine.
That's one thing new Offensive Coordinator Pat Shurmur observed during the offseason, even without having the players on-hand at UC Health Training Center. Lock's personality is magnetic and he uses it to both his and the team's advantage.
"Drew is into it," Shurmur said back in June. "Drew has a lot of enthusiasm and I can see why the players are going to relate to him extremely well as we move forward."
Despite the elimination of any official offseason practices under the Broncos' purview, Lock worked hard during and after the coronavirus lockdowns. Once the restrictions eased, he returned to the Mile High City and immediately began organizing unofficial practices at Denver-area parks, recruiting his offensive teammates and operating Shurmur's full playbook purportedly.
Bradley Chubb, who spent that time at the team facility diligently working on rehabbing his knee, picked up on Lock's obvious effort to get as many reps in as possible during this uniquely challenging offseason.
“Drew had a good offseason as well," Chubb said a week ago. "Just seeing the things he was doing and seeing him in the building now, he looks good and he looks healthy and ready to go. Then when you add those weapons around him with the weapons we already had here, I’m just excited to [see] that whole offense gel."
The likes of rookie WRs Jerry Jeudy and KJ Hamler, as well as Lock's college teammate TE Albert Okwuegbunam, are coalescing around the young signal-caller. For better or worse, Lock is a leader. He's always used his talent for building a following within the locker room as a positive asset for the team, and based on what Risner said, he's asserting himself in that way more so this summer.
"Of course, they’re young, but those guys are going to get it quick," Chubb said. "They’re out there doing stuff now. I can see them in the locker room going over plays with each other. It’s going to be fun to see Drew come into his own and take over this team like he needs to."
It's early and there's still a long row left to hoe before the season-opener on September 14 rolls around. But Lock seems to be doing all the right things at Broncos camp and is galvanizing the young talent around him.
As Chubb said, it's going to be interesting to see how Lock comes into his own and "takes over" the Denver Broncos. Elway did everything within his power as a front-office czar to build the nest around Lock and provide him with the tools necessary, both at the player and coaching level, to succeed.
Now all Lock has to do is make it happen. Easier said than done.