As rookie minicamp came to a close for the Denver Broncos, Head Coach Vic Fangio was asked about the quarterback situation heading into OTA’s this week. He confirmed Joe Flacco would be the starter, but noted that there will be an open competition between rookies Drew Lock and Brett Rypien for the backup spot.
“Joe [Flacco] will take all of the reps with the first team,” Fangio said. “Then we have an open competition after that and we’ll randomly play those with the 2s and the 3s when we do our reps.”
That Flacco is entrenched as the starter heading into OTAs is unsurprising, but that Fangio would leave the backup spot open for the best player to win was a bit refreshing. It further confirms that the keys to the franchise just won’t be handed over to an unproven rookie, because at the end of the day Lock is just another second round pick. Nothing is guaranteed.
That said, Lock had himself a solid minicamp and looks poised to be that backup quarterback in 2019 if he continues to progress from here.
Offensive Coordinator, Rich Scangarello, had a lot to say about Lock’s progress during the three-day minicamp.
“Drew’s done a great job,” Scangarello said. “Like a lot of the rookies, he’s come in here prepared [and used] that time before he got here to get a leg up on the playbook. I think as a group and as an offense, including Drew, all of them have done a nice job of getting a lot of productive stuff done because they’re on top of what we’re asking them to do.”
One of the big focal points for Lock was learning how to operate the offense from the huddle. Like most college quarterbacks today, they play from the spread and rarely call plays from the huddle.
Being a backup for a year or two will be vital for Lock’s development as an NFL quarterback.
“It’s funny. That’s the world we live in nowadays,” Scangarello said of quarterbacks adjusting to calling plays from the huddle. “A guy plays in a spread offense and he doesn’t huddle in high school or in college. It’s going to take time. It’s the hardest thing to do on the planet, in my opinion, to do it well, and part of that is being able to call plays and visualize them. That takes work. That is what they pay us to do and that is what they pay him to do. We have to work together to get that done. It’s exciting. He’s got the mind for it. It won’t be a problem in the long run.”
As we saw from the two full seasons of Paxton Lynch trying to become an NFL quarterback, nothing is guaranteed. A young player has to put everything they have into their craft or they won’t be long for this career path.
Lock is already showing the mentality it will take to succeed. He just has to remain patient and keep working on everything Scangarello and his staff is trying to teach. During the short minicamp, Lock showed he was ready for that kind of challenge.
“It’s very difficult to transition to do all the things you’re asking of them,” Scangarello said of Lock’s first two days at minicamp. “In 24 hours, you’re crash-coursing it. There is going to be a natural progression where we feel comfortable with all players. No doubt, once you realized what you’re faced with and you can actually be within it and sense what it’s going to take, the good one always find a way to figure out what it’s going to take to make themselves the best they can be. I think that is probably what he realized yesterday. He went back and he realized, ‘Hey, this is what I have to get real good at in the next coming days and the rest of my career. He’s up for the challenge.’”
For the backup position, Lock will likely have the inside edge over undrafted rookie Brett Rypien, but both players are on the roster because they have a tremendous amount of college experience. The amount of tape they both put out in college gave Scangarello the confidence he needed to know where both players needed to improve to make it in the NFL.
“Like I said about Drew, this was a very deep draft class because there were a lot of guys that started a lot of games,” Scangarello said. “I just value that greatly. I think you can evaluate a person and what they’re made of and how they play the game. Brett had those same qualities. He was tough, he was competitive and he played in a very good program. They coach their guys very well at Boise and he did a lot of great things. He started a lot of games. It’s very easy to evaluate that. I think he has the type of personality, like Drew and like all of the guys in that room, competitive and they have the mind for it. They’re processors. I think that’s what it takes in this league.”
Processing speed on the field is a huge thing in the NFL. This was actually noted as a concern or red flag in many of Lock’s scouting reports, but if Scangarello feels both Lock and Rypien do just fine processing information during the game, then maybe its not as big of a red flag as those pre-draft analysts assumed.
If I had to project, I would still peg Lock as the eventual backup to Flacco. Rypien’s fate will depend on how well he handles himself. He could end up sticking around as the third quarterback on the roster and the eventual backup to Lock when Flacco either moves on or retires.