The Denver Broncos introduced their new General Manager, George Paton, to the local media today. He officially started the job four days ago, but this is the first real time we’ve been able to hear some questions asked and start to get a feel for what direction Paton is looking to take the Broncos franchise.
One question on everyone’s mind is the future and plan for quarterback Drew Lock. While Paton was mostly noncommital to both Lock one way or another, it does seem that he is going to reserve judgement until he has fully reviewed the roster and the film.
He mentioned earlier in the week about how Drew Lock can develop, but that quote was a bit short and lacked any extra context. He was asked again and provided the same type of answer, but we’ve got a lot more follow up questions to go on. Let’s get to it.
An area where Paton seemed comfortable discussing Lock’s potential was how he felt about Drew Lock coming out of college. As an Assistant General Manager who helped guide a Minnesota Vikings franchise to playoff appearances with six (yes, six!) different quarterbacks in his time there, the quarterback position is obviously one they were quite interested in during his time there.
“I liked Drew coming out of the draft—big arm, athletic, playmaker,” Paton said. “I haven’t studied him. I haven’t gotten into a lot of tape. I’ve only been here four days. I’ve watched enough tape to know he’s talented and he can develop.”
That was the answer to the first of a two-part question about how he felt about Lock coming out of college and what he thinks of Lock today. He declined to provide any comment on the latter, which leads to the point he made about reviewing the film and discussing the roster with the front office and coaching staff.
Head Coach Vic Fangio clearly has an opinion on Drew Lock, but he was very careful to provide his thoughts. He will wait until Paton has had a chance to evaluate Lock himself. Once he has done that, then he’ll feel he can provide his own opinion on the position.
“The best way is for George to go and evaluate him himself and not have myself, Pat [Shurmur] or Mike [Shula] influence his thinking,” Fangio said. “Let him take a sterile and unbiased look at it. We can come back together, and he can express his views based on what he’s seen. We can answer some questions for him. He might be wondering what he was being told in this situation or that situation and maybe clear up a question or two that he might have. It’s best for him to form his own opinion without the influence of me or the other coaches.”
In an industry filled with ego and opinion, it was refreshing to hear Fangio respond to that question with such a reasoned and unbiased approach. Even here on Mile High Report, the opinions on Drew Lock vary as wildly as they ever did during the Trevor Siemian years. It’s good that Fangio will allow Paton to form his own views on the position and then talk things through from there.
Another thing that I noticed regarding quarterbacks was how Paton viewed the position overall. He was asked how essential the position is to the success of a franchise and whether Denver must prioritize finding a franchise quarterback over the defense heading into this offseason.
“The quarterback is the most important position in sports,” Paton said. “If you don’t have stability at quarterback, you’re going to have a hard time sustaining winning. So, very important, but I don’t think the focus should be taken off the defense just because you want a franchise quarterback. I think we all want the franchise quarterback, and that’s the number one goal is trying to draft and develop or acquire any way you can. When I was in Minnesota, I think we went to the playoffs with six different quarterbacks if I’m not mistaken. That’s not ideal, but you can still win if you don’t have the franchise guy. You can still win, but obviously we’re looking.”
With Paton’s insistence on building a roster through the draft, he seems to grasp the need to balance the need of a franchise quarterback over the need to field a competitive football team. He’s a guy who has taken plenty of different quarterbacks to the playoffs in Minnesota. He understands you can still win football games without a top tier guy at the position.
However, being that Minnesota has been so good all those years and ultimately never made it out of the NFC playoff bracket to the big game he likely also realizes that a franchise quarterback definitely puts you over the top. All you have to do is look at the quarterbacks starting this weekend to understand that. The only question now is whether or not Paton will come to believe that Drew Lock is going to be a franchise quarterback capable of leading teams deep into the playoffs year in and year out.