Drew Lock – Starting QB in 2021?

Wednesday’s pre-draft trade action centered around the Denver Broncos trading a 6th round pick to the Carolina Panthers for Teddy Bridgewater.

All signs point to that being the end, or at least the beginning of the end of Drew Lock’s tenure as the starting Quarterback for the Broncos. But what if it isn’t? What if Bridgewater is purely low cost competition for the former Missou signal caller?

Of course, Full 10 Yards’ king of the hot take Kieran Patterson believes it is the latter, and Denver actually has a future ‘top tier QB’ on their hands in Lock. So when Ed disagreed with him, we thought you’d all like to read their thinking…

Lock can bounce back as a starting QB – Kieran Patterson (@TheHimboF10Y)

A year ago I wrote a very special article about Broncos quarterback Drew Lock. I mused about his arm strength, on field performances and how the Broncos had finally found their guy. I was very excited by the limited sample sized we’d seen in his handful of starts towards the end of the 2019 season. I expected progression. I expected growth. We didn’t really see that, we in fact saw the opposite. But I’m still hopeful for Lock, join me as we take a look at why I think Drew Lock can still succeed in the NFL.

So we’ve already established Lock was pretty bad in 2020 but I won’t use the lazy sophomore slump excuse you’ll see from a lock of Lock truthers. Let’s start with the two most obvious issues. Offensive line and injuries. Lock was sacked 19 times in 2020 and it would’ve been a lot more if he wasn’t so mobile, his offensive line had the worst center in the league (sorry LSU family), Elijah Wilkinson ranked 117th among tackles (and spent 6 weeks on IR) and Ja’Wuan James opted of the season. While this isn’t wholly responsible for Lock’s issues it certainly didn’t help when dealing with a signal caller who is very raw and needs time to grow and adjust. That’s not easy when you’re running for your life half of the season.

Now let’s look at injuries…this is tough. In week 2 Lock injured his shoulder and besides that being a problem for a player who kinda needs his shoulders to throw a ball, the injury bug also got a lot of his team mates. In the same week 2 game Courtland Sutton tore his ACL, ending his season. So even when Lock made it back from this serious injury he was missing his top target. But that’s okay they still have guys like KJ Hamler and…oh Hamler got injured too? Well that’s not good at least he still has help in the back field with Phillip Lindsey. He’s injured too? Well maybe he’ll have unnatural instant chemistry with rookie Jerry Jeudy, that didn’t happen either.

Let’s also talk about Covid too, something that hurt a lot of teams this season. Lock worked with his 7th coordinator in 6 years and he had to learn everything over Zoom? Yeah he was set up to fail in 2020. 2020 was just doomed from the start for guys like Lock, who really needed help and refinement going into their first full year. I feel bad for him personally. 

All I want is to see Lock get a fair chance. He’s one of the most talented signal callers in the league but he’s also one of the most raw and unrefined prospects we’ve seen in a while. I think his chances in Denver are limited but with the right guidance Lock could become a top tier quarterback in the NFL.

He’s not a Lock to be the guy going forward – Ed Farrar – (@Farradise)

Drew Lock was an objectively terrible NFL Quarterback in 2020. 

Now as much as I’d like to leave that as my piece and pour myself a beer, I have committed to being involved with this debate and so I should probably take it seriously. So let’s go through why Drew Lock is bad, and why he’s probably never going to get a great deal better.

First off let’s take a look at some telling statistics from our good friends at PFF. Now PFF grades are qualitative data, so they are subjective, but they are very stable year on year so I think we can judge them as a stable source of information for good or bad Quarterbacking. In PFF’s post-season QB rankings, Lock ranked 31st after finishing with a 63.5 season grade, only ahead of Mitchell Trubisky, Sam Darnold, Nick Mullens and Dwayne Haskins. Not a great look. Furthermore, when ranking the grades of the 80 Quarterbacks who have faced 100+ dropbacks against the blitz since 2014, Lock comes 79th. Finally, no Quarterback has thrown a higher percentage of uncatchable passes beyond the line of scrimmage, 28%, than Lock since he entered the league. 

The stats really don’t lie, and even if you aren’t a PFF guy like me, just turn on the tape and you’ll see what I see. He is a below-average NFL starter if we’re sugarcoating it.

Now many will turn to the age old excuse of saying that Lock would be better in a different scheme or a better situation, but that is nonsense. I doubt Lock will ever find himself in a better situation than the one he’s in now. The Broncos had a decent offensive line in 2020, bar Lloyd Cushenberry, and have an array of exciting offensive weapons ready and waiting to be used. Courtland Sutton. Jerry Jeudy. KJ Hamler. Noah Fant. Denver even had a good pair of running backs in Phillip Lindsay and Melvin Gordon. I think it’s pretty clear who is holding who back here. So if he isn’t going to achieve anything with that offence, what system would allow him to achieve?

Here’s a nice quiz question for you to accentuate my point. Which NFL receiver had the most incomplete targets that were the Quarterbacks fault in 2020? 

Jerry Jeudy, with 26.

Look if I was an NFL GM and you offered me Drew Lock for a mid round pick I’d take it, he has some interesting traits, but from what we’ve seen he is not a Franchise Quarterback. He’s inaccurate, skittish and just keeps missing open receivers. He’s not good enough. Maybe he could be with more development, but that’s not the Broncos problem. So here we find ourselves, a couple of weeks away from a draft which has the most Quarterback talent we’ve seen in decades, and there seems to be some sort of debate over whether Denver should take one of not. 

This needs to be made clear once and for all, so I’ll be frank. If any of the top five Quarterbacks are there at nine, the Broncos should take them, regardless of the Bridgewater pick up. I’d probably advocate for trading up to four and getting whichever of Lance and Fields aren’t taken by the 49ers, but even if Mac Jones is your option at nine I think he would be a better option than Lock. We know Mac Jones can execute an offence, and with the weapons the Broncos have all he needs to do is hit Jerry Jeudy accurately when he inevitably gets open. Of course we’d need Jeudy to start catching it, but that’s a different issue. 

My point is that all of the top five Quarterbacks in this class are better options than Lock at this point, and given the importance of having a good signal caller in place you can’t pass up an opportunity like this to upgrade. The Broncos can’t afford to waste the opportunity they have picking in the top ten by kicking Drew Lock down the line another year. We have seen little to no evidence of Lock becoming good enough to lead the Broncos to the play-offs, and with a brilliant defensive head coach and young offensive core in place, they can’t afford to pass up a potential Super Bowl window for a second round pick that was one of the worst starters in the league last year. Take the loss, have another swing in the first round this year, and keep Lock around to fight it out in training camp. It’s the only sensible option to take.

Denver Broncos: Drew Lock explains what happened on interception
Photo: Broncos Wire

What do you think Lock’s future holds? Let us know @Full10Yards.

Latest NFL Articles

Go the Full10Yards with our email newsletter

Join our email list and get our latest news, podcasts, offers and more direct to your email every week.