Drew Lock's Second Major Injury Forces Uncomfortable Conversation at Broncos HQ
The Denver Broncos are stuck between a rock and a hard place as the team looks to the future of the franchise. Uncomfortable questions now come at the quarterback position with Drew Lock suffering a shoulder injury that will sideline him for 2-6 weeks, maybe even longer.
Considering that it's Lock's second major injury in as many seasons as a pro, there has to be a discussion among the decision-makers at Broncos HQ. Do the Broncos need to start looking at quarterbacks for the 2021 NFL Draft?
This is an existential question for the Broncos. In the video above, I dig into it unflinchingly and it might leave some fans chagrined. However, before fans grab the torches and pitchforks, hear me out.
There is a lot that goes into this question and the Broncos won't arrive at a true answer until after the season is over. But it is an issue that needs to begin being discussed.
Lock has played in seven games, completing six of them. Since being drafted in the second round of the 2019 draft, he's dealt with a pretty serious thumb injury, which sidelined him for most of his rookie year, and now a serious shoulder injury. Both happened to his throwing shoulder/hand.
That alone is a reason to be concerned about going forward. It's a lot of time Lock will have missed for injury and as they say, the best ability is availability.
Over the span of Lock's starts, there have been undeniable flashes of brilliance with his play, just as there have been some facepalm moments due to young mistakes. He earned the right to be the guy this season based on his 4-1 finish as a rookie, but again, he is now hurt.
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With two major injuries in two years, can Lock really grow as a player? The shortest path to development is to get out there on the field and if he ends up missing the longest possible time in his prognosis (six weeks), it would add up to 15 games in two seasons.
I'm not saying the team should give up on Lock, so don't get it twisted, but Denver can't repeat a mistake they made a few years ago. Denver passed on the 2017 quarterback class, which included guys like Patrick Mahomes and Deshaun Watson, hoping for the development of Paxton Lynch which never came to fruition.
Granted, Lock has shown more in the NFL than Lynch ever did but Lynch carried a first-round investment which is much higher in value and pedigree than Lock's. Denver has to consider protecting itself by drafting another quarterback.
That would give the Broncos someone to compete with Lock and push Driskel as the backup quarterback. I like Lock and the potential he has shown, but his injuries are a concern going forward, especially when you factor in how much cost-controlled time the team has lost.
Lock is only under team control for two more seasons. Devil's advocate? A first-round pick in 2021 would give the Broncos a five-year window with a cost-controlled QB.
The biggest and most obvious variable in this is: how will Lock play when he comes back from his injury? That should be the determining factor for determining when the Broncos target a quarterback.
If he does well, then maybe Round 3 or 4 would be the draft window, but if he falls flat, the Broncos would have to consider at Round 1. This was the course set by how Denver handled 2019 and the offseason of 2020.
GM John Elway built the nest around Lock, but now he's not available to maximize the talent and investment. But that talent is also there for whichever quarterback that might come next.
The potential is there with Lock, but with two serious injuries, the Broncos must consider protecting future years by adding another quarterback to compete. If Lock pans out this year, great, you have a backup to develop and maybe move for draft capital down the road and you wouldn't have to invest another first-rounder in the QB position.
If Lock fails, now you have a backup plan. I can't stress this enough; Denver cannot repeat the mistakes it has in the past and ignore the position with hopes riding on Lock. That's what led to four sub-par seasons post-Super Bowl 50 and no fan should want to repeat that.
Again, the answer is Denver should be looking at quarterbacks in the 2021 draft, but exactly when will be determined by Lock when he comes back from injury. I share in Broncos Country's hope that he has a speedy recovery and comes back to light things on fire and put to rest any question of a first-rounder next year, but even if he does, remember, there needs to be a viable backup plan considering his injury history.
Don't forget to check out the video above for additional context on this sensitive topic. You tell me? How should the Broncos proceed from a team-building perspective in light of Lock's second big injury? Sound off in the comment section below.