Drew Lock Explains why he Held Back his Personality as a Rookie Last Year
Most NFL veterans follow the 'rookies are best seen, not heard' ethos. Those rules might bend a little bit for first-rounders and highly-drafted quarterbacks.
Drew Lock wasn't a first-rounder but he was a second-round pick and a quarterback. And yet, as a rookie, Lock had to throttle back his personality early on in the Denver Broncos locker room.
On Friday, as the Broncos continue the initial stages of training camp, the second-year signal-caller explained why.
“I definitely feel like I had to hold myself back a little bit at the beginning of the season just, as I said before, to feel everyone out, feel the situation out, even feel [Jets’ QB] Joe [Flacco] out a little bit," Lock said via virtual press conference. "Slowly but surely, I got to come into myself and really show everyone that I was around who I was especially when I finally became the guy and got to start playing. I think we all have seen my personality come out since I started playing.”
That we did. Not only did Lock's passion and pure joy of playing the game quickly show itself when he became the Broncos' starting QB in Week 13, but his confidence and swagger were palpable as well. Lock didn't show that side of his personality early on and it's not hard to understand why.
Joe Flacco was the 'understood' starting quarterback when Lock hit the Broncos locker room last spring. Although Lock had some juice as a highly-drafted quarterback, he knew Flacco was a decade-long starter and former Super Bowl MVP and the veterans respected that. It wouldn't have reflected well on Lock to storm into the locker room as a green-behind-the-ears rookie and act like he owned the place.
Also complicating and delaying the emergence of Lock's magnetic personality was the fact that he suffered a severe thumb sprain in the Broncos third preseason game and would go on to spend the next three months on injured reserve. That meant, no practices with the guys and very limited exposure in the meeting rooms and locker room, due to NFL IR rules.
In Week 13, about a month after Flacco had suffered a neck injury that landed him on IR, Lock literally went from IR to the starting lineup within a matter of hours. When Flacco left the starting job, he'd led the Broncos to a 2-6 start — hardly befitting the reputation of a 10-year starter and ex-Super Bowl MVP.
Stop-gap QB Brandon Allen went 1-2 as a starter before Lock finally supplanted him in Week 13. The Broncos sat at a dismal 3-8. By season's end, the team finished 7-9, which wasn't great, but Lock's 4-1 finish down the stretch salvaged what was shaping up to be another uber-embarrassing season for the Broncos.
Lock's 4-1 finish also provided the team (and its fans) some hope and momentum heading into 2020. GM John Elway built the nest around Lock this past offseason, infusing the offense with talent across the board while hiring an OC/QBs Coach duo in Pat Shurmur and Mike Shula that could have a microwave effect on Lock's Year 1 to Year 2 developmental jump.
Lock and the Broncos are loaded for bear on this hunt heading into 2020. And with both Flacco and Allen now hanging their respective NFL hats in another city, Lock has the room to continue to be himself and build on the precedent he set as a rookie last year.
“What I learned when I got here is that once you gain the respect of the older guys and the heads of the organization here—that should be your first ultimate goal to gain the respect of the guys around you," Lock said. "For me to be able to feel like what I did last year and the comments from everyone this offseason and just being able to walk into the locker room and feel like I have the respect of everybody, that is 100 percent the one goal that I set for that first year, just gaining respect from this team. Now that I have that, there’s no worries about personalities making relationships because we all know who I am, I know everybody on this team, I know how they act, I know who they are as a person. Now it’s time for ball to where if I need to jump someone, I’m not the rookie anymore yelling at a third, fourth-year guy. It’s ‘That’s Drew yelling at us. That’s Drew getting on us.’ It’s a whole different mentality behind having a second-year quarterback rather than a rookie quarterback."