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Elway: Lock ‘won’t be Johnny Unitas overnight’ but he’s got potential

Speaking at the Combine, the Broncos’ GM told Broncos Country Tonight he’s happy to not be looking for another quarterback.

NFL Combine - Day 1 Photo by Alika Jenner/Getty Images

John Elway is at the NFL Combine this week doing his due diligence on potential draft picks, and there is one thing he is 100 percent certain about - he’s happy to not have to be drafting a quarterback again.

Although there are some good prospects, being able to go into 2020 with a young promising quarterback is a much better feeling.

“We’re trying to get better everywhere, but for the first time in a while we’re not looking for a quarterback, which is nice,” Elway told Ryan Edwards and Ben Allbright of Broncos Country Tonight, adding that the Broncos will be concentrating on other positions. “Obviously we’d like to take care of the quarterback and help him be successful, and we’ve got to take care of the defense too.”

Despite being pleased with how Drew Lock ended the season, helping the team finish on a 4-1 run for his five games as starter, Elway isn’t ready to anoint Lock as the NFL’s next Patrick Mahomes. But he did drop another elite quarterback’s name.

“He’s not going to be Johnny Unitas overnight, but he’s a guy that’s got an opportunity to get to that kind of level,” Elway said, adding that he was very pleased with how Lock handled himself as a young starter. “We’ve just got to be patient with him and continue to work with him because he still is very young.”

But the GM also admitted that going after a young core of high-character, high-quality players has been an emphasis the past few drafts, and he’s happy with the result.

“We’ve concentrated a little more on character. I will say this, though, and that is It’s a heck of a lot easier drafting in the top 10 rather than in the bottom 10, so our access to good football players has been much greater,” he noted, adding that he doesn’t want to keep picking in the top 10 for obvious reasons. “But we’re thrilled with guys we do have, the type of people they are. They’ve come in and done everything we hoped they would do and hopefully they can continue to grow and improve. If they keep getting better and better, then we have a chance to get better as a team.”

By declining to pick up Ron Leary’s option, the Broncos have around $68 million in cap space but should move up closer to $80 million once Joe Flacco is likely released. Elway has indicated before he would use free agency to spend on the defense and build the offense through the draft, but either way, he hopes to take care of as many holes in free agency as possible.

“We’re fortunate with the number of picks we have and as well as some cap space,” Elway said. “Hopefully we can get a lot of problems covered in free agency and then go to the draft from there.”