Is it too soon to wonder whether or not the Broncos should even play Drew Lock in the season finale against the Raiders next weekend? What if he gets hurt?

Too soon?

Perhaps. Getting Drew Lock another start – as an NFL starter – is probably a good idea. Every single snap of experience can’t hurt – especially considering that Lock is the future in Denver.

That’s right. I’ve seen enough. Lock is a lock. Draft another quarterback? Why bother? Get that man a new left tackle, please. Lock is the guy.

He’s 3-1 as the Broncos starter. He bounced back just fine after his first bump in the road, losing (ugly) at KC and then brushing it off like it was nothing, going 25-33 for 192 and a touchdown against the Lions for the win. He also came from behind in the second half to win – don’t underestimate those come-from-behind wins. Yes, it’s the Lions and not the Patriots or 49ers, but a win is a win is a win. As they’ll all tell you in the NFL, these things are tough to come by.

But the record and the numbers shouldn’t really matter that much. It’s the eye test that should. He makes all the throws. He makes plays with this feet if he needs to. He avoids the rush. He’d rather score than kick. Some call him a gunslinger; I call him a playmaker… tə-ˈmā-(ˌ)tō …

It’s a fine line – gunslinger comes with a negative connotation; playmaker assumes plays are being made – but no matter what, Lock isn’t about to sit back and take sacks (ala Joe Flacco) or lead a dink and dunk offense (ala Trevor Siemian, Case Keenum). Lock, or so it seems from our four-game sample size, isn’t going to give up on plays (ala Brett Favre, John Elway). Before Lock, when was the last time you thought the Broncos had a chance when they faced third-and-long, or fourth-down?

Lock represents hope. Both in unfavorable down and distance situations, and in general.

Lock has a swagger we haven’t seen since Peyton Manning. Sure, Lock’s confidence comes from a different place than PFM’s – that kind of chutzpah only comes from being the best there ever was – but nonetheless, the makings of it is there.

“He has, and I hate saying the same word, he has that swag,” safety Justin Simmons said of Lock after Sunday’s win over the Lions. “He’s a natural leader. Guys want to follow him, and he has that contagious spirit.”

Hear that? The Broncos quarterback is worth following – whether you’re Justin Simmons, Courtland Sutton, Phillip Lindsay or Joe Fan.

On Dec. 1, there were 19,094 no-shows at the Broncos-Chargers game at Empower Field. It was 33-degrees outside, and the Broncos him-hawed until Saturday to announce that Lock would make his first start. On Sunday, four weeks later, it was 67-degrees outside, and it was no surprise when No. 3 trotted out as Denver’s starter – about 10,000 more showed up, by the way. Yes, the weather played a part, but the entire city can’t see enough of Drew Lock. Both crowds understood the playoffs were (are) out of reach. The pre-Christmas crowd was there to watch the gift that’s about to keep on giving, who, by the way, won both games.

Gunslingers Brett Favre and John Elway went to the Super Bowl in their 6th and 4th year respectively. Considering the young core that already surrounds Lock, and the few years between now and, oh, let’s say 2022, to sign and/or draft the missing pieces Chris Harris Jr. referred to last week, it’s fairly safe to go ahead and book plane tickets and hotel reservations for Super Bowl 55 (Your Uncle Stan will be hosting the Super Bowl following the 2022 season, you know…and Denver, led by Drew Lock, will be there).

Premature? Perhaps I’m getting ahead of myself. But for the first time in a long time, hope fills the air in Denver.

And that’s because one thing is for certain: Drew Lock is, for all intents and purposes, the future of Broncos football.

As he should be.