The Broncos have committed to Drew Lock, at least for the upcoming season. But to properly evaluate whether he’s the long-term answer at quarterback, they knew they needed to invest in a stronger supporting cast.
Enter the 2020 NFL Draft, which saw Denver use four of its first six picks toward unlocking Lock.
After taking wideout Jerry Jeudy No. 15 overall, the Broncos boldly doubled up at the position with burner K.J. Hamler in the second round. They grabbed lineman Lloyd Cushenberry in the third to presumably be their new center. Their lone fourth-round pick went to Albert Okwuegbunam, who topped all tight ends with a 4.49 40 at the combine.
"I felt that offensively, for us to be able to compete and give Drew a chance to be successful and us to be successful on the offensive side … we had to get some speed and we had to get some talent on that offensive side and some explosiveness on the offensive side," general manager John Elway said, per the team’s website. "That’s why we decided to go that way. We played good defense last year and we’ll continue to play good defense this coming year, but we had to pick things up on the offensive side [with] that explosiveness and speed factor."
The Broncos, of course, also added running back Melvin Gordon in free agency. He provides Lock with another option in the passing game and can spell lead rusher Phillip Lindsay.
The league’s No. 28 scoring offense in 2019 (17.6 points per game) could see dramatic improvement in 2020. Perhaps enough to catapult the Broncos to their first playoff berth in five years. They’re still seeking a winning formula after riding one of the league’s top defenses to Super Bowl 50. It’s led to a scavenger hunt at QB, from Trevor Siemian to Paxton Lynch to Brock Osweiler to Case Keenum to Joe Flacco.
Now it’s Lock’s turn. He showed encouraging signs down the stretch of his rookie year, winning four of five starts. But defense was the basis for it. Denver will ultimately need more from Lock if it’s going to make another title run. First that entailed giving him more to work with.
"I think that as a quarterback, there’s no question you always want to have great weapons around you, but I think the key thing is trying to figure out how to win football games," Elway said. "I think that when you look back over the last four years, since Super Bowl 50 when we really won it on the defensive side — then when Peyton [Manning] retired, we’ve been trying to find that replacement for Peyton since then. We’ve tried to concentrate on the defensive side with the idea that if we can keep the score down, we’ll stay in football games and eventually try to find the quarterback we can replace him with and get the offense back on track.
"I think with the way Drew played at the end of last year, we saw the signs of a guy that has a chance to be very successful in this league, but to do that, he’s got to have some good people around him."
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