After shaking multiple trees, Denver Broncos General Manager John Elway finally shook the right tree last year as a quarterback in Drew Lock fell into his lap.
Lock began his career on injured reserve following a thumb injury in the preseason, yet 2019 couldn’t have finished better, not only for him but for the team and the whole of Broncos Country.
After the failed Joe Flacco experiment ended when he suffered an injury in week eight, the team then went with his backup, Brandon Allen.
The Broncos had seen enough from Allen in his three weeks as a starter, and with Lock healthy, the Missouri product was activated and made his debut in week 13.
And he was thrown right into the fire of an AFC West matchup, where he impressed on debut, steering the Broncos to a win over the now Philip Rivers-less LA Chargers.
He finished the season with an impressive 4-1 record and became the first rookie signal-caller to have 300 passing yards and three passing touchdowns in his first road start. This stat looks even more impressive when we remember it was against the playoff-bound Houston Texans.
Thanks to Lock, what seemed a dismal season ended brightly, with the Broncos finishing second in the AFC West with a 7-9 record.
On a side note, had lady luck shined on the Broncos that season, it could well have been a play-off campaign, but then who knows if we’d have seen Lock step on the field!?
The keys to the Lock
John Elway stated after the season’s end, that the team needed more speed. 17 points per game weren’t good enough, and he knew to compete in the division the Broncos had to do more on offence.
After the crushing defeat of Superbowl 48, where the Seahawks defence dominated from start to finish, Elway knew he had to build a championship-worthy defence, which bore fruit two seasons later, as one of the greatest defences of all time led Denver to a third Lombardi Trophy.
Now his philosophy has changed, and Elway has recognised he needs to rejuvenate his offence.
Whilst Vic Fangio has maintained a very astute defence, is it time to get excited again?
After picking arguably the best wide-out in the 2020 draft in Jerry Jeudy, the team then shocked us all and threw everyone’s mock drafts in the bin by selecting another wide receiver at 46 in speedster K.J. Hamler.
Into the 3rd round, and a solid pick for the defence came in cornerback Michael Ojemudia, before centre Lloyd Cushenberry III fell to 83, solidifying what could be a nasty offensive line for years to come, and providing Lock with a solid pivot.
Not forgetting that defence wins championships, Elway then took Arkansas defensive lineman McTelvin Agim with his last pick of the third round.
Day Three, and Still all About Lock
The Broncos’ hierarchy then signalled the teams intent that this was a draft for Drew Lock, by calling him at the start of the 4th round for a reference on his college teammate, tight end Albert Okwuegbunam, and then reuniting the pair with pick 118.
This pick raised a few eyebrows, but at 6’5″, 258lbs and with a 40-yard dash time of 4.49 seconds (Noah Fant ran a 4.50), it’s easy to see why Elway took the plunge.
Linebacker Justin Strnad was brought in in the fifth round, adding further depth at inside linebacker, and into the sixth we went.
Another future starter, if he can stay healthy, was brought in with guard Netine Muti. Muti was a projected first-round talent, but his injury history, having played just five games in the last two years, saw him slip all the way to the Broncos at pick 181.
Muti is a beast, and some reports have suggested he could transition to tackle, and if so he could be a massive contributor for the Denver Broncos.
Round seven saw the Broncos ensure they got their pick of the potential undrafted free agents, including another potential weapon for Lock in wide receiver Tyrie Cleveland. Cleveland’s route to the roster will likely be through special teams initially, as will edge rusher Derrek Tuszka.
Speed, Speed, Speed
So, what does this mean? If Elway wanted speed, he got it. Here are the offences 40-yard dash times:
4.69s QB Drew Lock
4.39s RB Philip Lindsay
4.52s RB Melvin Gordon
4.54s Courtland Sutton
4.45s WR Jerry Jeudy
4.27s WR KJ Hamler
4.47s WR Tim Patrick
4.52s WR DaeSean Hamilton
4.27s WR Diontae Spencer
4.50s TE Noah Fant
4.49s TE Albert Okwuegbunam
After years of offensive struggles, Elway has now invested heavily on this side of the ball. Coupled with a new offensive coordinator in Pat Shurmer, the Broncos are finally a team to be taken seriously again.
Can Broncos Country look forward to history repeating itself and a trip to the Super Bowl in February 2022? I’m not sure, but the Broncos are definitely Locked in for 2020.