After a short, somewhat promising stint as the Broncos starter as a rookie, there were decently high expectations for Drew Lock entering Year 2 at Denver. But he never took a step forward in 2020 and was at times one of the most ineffective starters in the league.
Somehow, after an offseason filled with rumors that the Broncos are interested in a litany of quarterbacks from Deshaun Watson to Aaron Rodgers and just about all the top prospects in the draft, the only competition Lock has for the departure station is Teddy Bridgewater. Now new GM George Paton was with Bridgewater in Minnesota, but Lock’s outlook could easily have been a lot darker if Denver had prioritized upgrading the quarterback with a monster swap or the first. draft round. Maybe there are more beliefs in Lock than most of us think?
He’ll find himself in an old-school quarterback battle this summer, but, as the incumbent, let’s explore all about Lock’s environment in Denver and what he needs to do to take it to the next level as that quarterback.
Previous installments of this young QB Outlook project: Joe Burrow, Tua Tagovailoa, Justin Herbert, Kyler Murray.
How Lock has improved since he was a prospect
These positive developments in the game of a quarterback are remarkable because they indicate the distinct possibility of future growth.
Here is an excerpt frombefore the 2019 NFL Draft; my stylistic comparison for him was Matthew Stafford:
Lock is a cannon-wielding pocket passer capable of making breathtaking throws down or across the court who plays the game with “shooter’s amnesia”. If he makes a bad decision or throws a choice, it has no impact on his aggressiveness on the next play or series. He can throw effortlessly from various arm angles, and the arrow points upwards in terms of patience and pocket presence, although the hiccups in those areas are still present. He won’t run away from many NFL linebackers, but can pick up yards with his feet when needed, and his accuracy in the field is more impressive than his touch on short passes. It sounds a lot like Stafford.
And, given his age and newness to the NFL, Lock was featured in that same series a year ago. Here’s what I wrote about how he’s improved since his days at Missouri in his rookie season in 2019.
In his five starts in 2019, Lock finished with thein my season assessment of all first and sophomore quarterback games (out of 17 that have played). He got an “A-” and a “B-” as well as three outings in the “C” range out of his five. While Lock was solid, the sample size needs to be factored in with his third place finish.
But as mentioned above, Lock didn’t progress to Year 2 in Denver. And I was wrong about the way he would play. In last year’s Lock article I wrote “Overall, mainly due to the strength of his arms, quick release, jamming ability, and the playmaking group he has in Denver, I would expect a considerable leap for Lock during his second season with the Broncos. “
Admittedly, Lock was mostly nervous in the pocket and inaccurate at all levels of the pitch – and spent time on the sidelines with a shoulder injury that occurred in Week 2. In that same game, after missing The first game of the season with a shoulder injury of his own, the No. 1 star wide Courtland Sutton was lost for the year due to a knee injury. It was devastating for Lock. It would have been for any young quarterback.
Trapasso joined Will Brinson on the Pick Six podcast to talk about what Lock and other young QBs need to do to take the next step; listen to it below and be sure to follow on your favorite podcast platform.
Jerry Jeudy didn’t make a lightning-quick transition to the NFL, although he was held back by Lock’s inconsistencies, and the rookie was de facto the first target midway through Week 2. Sutton’s return is seismic for this offense. Remember, in 2019, Sutton recorded a big number of 2.48 yards per course, the 12th best footballer with Joe Flacco, Brandon Allen and five games with Lock.
Noah Fant turned out to be more hype than productive substance, but he had 62 passes – which led the team – in 2020 to just 10.9 yards per hitch with three scores.
KJ Hamler was not in great shape and played 48.4% of the snaps. On those plays, he made 30 passes within 13 yards per reception. In year three, underrated criminal Tim Patrick established himself as a bottom weapon with six scores out of 51 catches at nearly 15 yards per take.
This is still a young group with dynamic promises, and Sutton’s reintegration into programming allows everyone else to find themselves in more appropriate roles than they had to take on in 2020.
Up front, the Broncos line has gelled well. Garett Bolles’ monsters out of nowhere season in 2020 is encouraging for the future and Dalton Risner and Graham Glasgow are rock solid at both guard points. Uncertainty is the best way to describe the central position, and third-round pick Quinn Meinerz will rival last year’s third round Lloyd Cushenberry who was a matador in 2020. Bobby Massie has been signed to tighten the correct position. tackle.
It is not an elite blocking unit. However, this is the one that an athletic young quarterback can step behind.
Still the same offensive coordinator for Lock, West Coast lawyer Pat Shurmur. Under Shurmur, Lock finished with the fourth-highest average of the planned fleets, per Next Generation Statistics. It’s his game. That’s when he should be better, because of his arm and his natural aggressive style as a passer.
Improve your weaknesses
Play against the pressure. Lock was appalling when he wasn’t well protected in second year. He was on target with 47.7% of his shots under pressure. The league average was 63.3%. It’s a huge disparity. Name a statistic, Lock was well below par while under pressure last season.
And he was only pressured for 33.1% of his losses, which isn’t a ridiculously high rate. It was the 19th place among qualified passers last season. Many of his decisions under pressure were rushed, and Lock was just too sloppy with football in these scenarios. Such a group of green receivers didn’t necessarily help Lock see open targets either – 19.6% of his throws were made to pass receivers who were less than a yard apart. It was the eighth-highest rate in the league.
Lock was blitzed on 30% of his drop backs in 2020, and his stats there? You guessed it, below par across the board. If teams know that pressuring Lock is the key to not only slowing the Broncos’ offense but also stopping it, Lock won’t be the starter in Denver for very long.
Strengthen its strengths
When the Broncos’ improved forward created a perfectly clean pocket for Lock, he performed well. And therein lies the silver lining for Lock entering Year Three. Because, as previous episodes of his quarterback review series have pointed out, playing with a clean pocket is more stable season after season than playing under pressure.
He was only a few percentage points below the league average in adjusted completion percentage in these situations, his average target depth was significantly above average (9.1 vs. 7.7) and his 7.9 yards per attempt were also above the league average of 7.7. .
If the Broncos’ blocking unit continues its uptrend, Lock will have even more clean pocket opportunities in 2021, and he will have Sutton on the sidelines to help bolster the effectiveness of the passing offense. Lock needs to make the most of the time he is not under pressure to support his overall game if there is minimal step under pressure.
I also want Lock to keep pushing the ball vertically down the field. He’s never been an accurate passer in the quick game, so hitting long balls with decent frequency will be integral to Denver’s passing offense being dangerous. The speed in the group of passers is there.
I’ve said this a few times and will do it one more time to end this article – it’s conceivable that Sutton’s presence could make Lock a whole different quarterback in 2021 than we’ve seen of him before. He’s a deceptively quick big rebounder who also thrives after the catch. In 2019, Sutton quietly averaged 5.0 yards after catch per catch, which was the same number as Stefon Diggs and Michael Gallup.
Sutton is the guy who can bail out a quarterback in pressure situations and win against the opposition No.1 cornerbacks.
I am absolutely concerned about Lock’s brutality under pressure. I don’t know if he’s salvageable in that regard, and Sutton can only help him as much.
But Lock’s Sutton-less 2020’s own handheld game allows me to have some ground for a prediction that we’ll see Lock’s distinct step forward this season from what was the basement of starting quarterbacks ago. a season. He’ll sniff the top 20 in some quarterback rankings at the end of the year.