When Drew Lock fell out of the first round and into the Denver Broncos’ lap at No. 42 in the 2019 NFL Draft, the quarterback was deemed a steal. A first-round arm talent and potential starter on a second-round rookie contract? Sign us up, the Broncos probably screamed in their draft room.
But just two days into training camp practice, Broncos coach Vic Fangio threw cold water on the notion that Lock was ready to play in a professional football game, much less take Joe Flacco’s starting job in Denver.
Lock’s lively but wild arm, Fangio told reporters Friday, needs to be tempered.
“I think a quarterback that can change his arm angles is a position when it’s needed. You don’t want to do it when you don’t have to do it. Obviously if someone’s in my face and I have to do it, that’s good to have that talent,” Fangio explained. “But if I’m strong in the pocket and there’s nothing, I want to throw over the top, nice and strong. I don’t want to rely on side-arms. It’s good that he can do that, but he needs to use that when he needs to and not when he doesn’t need to. His college offense really had no carryover to pro offenses. He was under duress a lot in college, so a lot of his plays he was running around.
“I don’t think he’s far along as far as being as NFL-ready a quarterback as he could’ve been. That’s what I mean when I say he’s got to get ready. He’s not a quarterback yet — he’s a hard-throwing pitcher that doesn’t know how to pitch yet. The faster he gets that, the better off he’ll be and we’ll be.”
Like a 21st-century gridiron version of Ricky Vaughn, Lock has arm velocity and strength, but doesn’t yet boast the touch and accuracy of a professional gunslinger. This was the rub on Lock coming out of Missouri, though that didn’t keep the Broncos reportedly considering Lock the top quarterback on their board.
Perhaps Denver felt confident taking a chance on the boom-or-bust Lock because it had traded for the veteran Flacco, a safe and steady Super Bowl-winning signal-caller who can mentor (or not mentor) Lock through his rookie season.
If Fangio’s honest commentary on Friday means anything, though, the Broncos are not going to be as gung-ho about pushing Lock into a starting position.