A recent ESPN piece asked more than 50 NFL executives and coaches about Year 2 quarterbacks and where they rank heading into the 2020 season. Denver Broncos quarterback Drew Lock was part of that discussion and while he didn’t rank at the top spot, executives saw enough in his five starts to see the potential.
After passing for 1,020 yards, seven touchdowns to three interceptions, and a 64.1% completion percentage in 2019, Lock ended up ranked third behind Kyler Murray and Daniel Jones by these execs. One NFC exec liked what he saw physically, but thought there was a lot of work to be done from the neck up.
The Lock-Minshew voting was incredibly close, with Lock pulling away due to what many considered a more dynamic skill set.
“He does a lot of cool s--- with his arm,” an NFC exec said. “Physically talented. But needs to slow it down and play the game more from the neck up.”
From there, executives and coaches around the league loved how Broncos President of Football Operations/General Manager John Elway surrounded the young quarterback with plenty of offensive firepower.
Several personnel evaluators believe tight end Noah Fant and wide receiver Courtland Sutton are top-10 players at their position right now. Free-agent addition Melvin Gordon and Phillip Lindsay form a potent tailback tandem.
“He has come a long way,” one NFL defensive coach said. “My whole thing was I didn’t think he was an instant starter. I’m still not sure and he’s gotta prove it, but we’re gonna see what he does with those weapons — big-time weapons.”
The ESPN piece on Lock concluded with a bit of a warning when it comes to ignoring the tackle position when surrounding a young quarterback with weapons. Both Baker Mayfield and Sam Darnold have languished early in their careers despite a lot of talent at skill positions. That was mostly due to poor offensive line play.
Denver has two cautionary tales of how poor tackle play rattles a second-year quarterback: Mayfield and Sam Darnold. The Cleveland Browns and New York Jets had to rebuild the position in the offseason to help their quarterbacks.
The biggest difference here might be how well the interior of the offensive line is. I think Denver has the potential to be stout where it counts for a young quarterback. As long as Lock can trust he can step into his throws, then he should be able to deal with whatever issues they might have on the left or right sides of the line.
Not all of ESPN’s analysis is listed out there, so definitely read the full article. With just five games to go off of, I can see why NFL executives might be cautious about Lock after just five starts. However, they too see the potential us fans do, so that is a good place to start here a few weeks out from the regular season.
Who will have the best Year 2 in the NFL?
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Gardner Minshew II