Denver Broncos fans are desperate for a star quarterback. We understand.

The last time Denver enjoyed an elite QB, it was Peyton Manning in 2014. Since then, we’ve seen a broken-down Manning, a bumbling Brock Osweiler, timid Trevor Siemian, a lost Paxton Lynch, chaotic Case Keenum, flat-footed Joe Flacco and some guy named Brandon Allen before finally landing on Drew Lock.

Lock has to be the guy, he just has to.

Of course, finishing the season 4-1 and lighting the world on fire against the Houston Texans sent the Lock hype train into overdrive; Broncos fans are convinced he is the sure-fire quarterback of the future.

But, desperate Denver fans should pump the brakes a bit on Lock before betting he becomes elite.

Without a doubt, the kid has mobility, he’s got a big enough arm and seems to relish playing under the bright lights. His teammates have gravitated toward him as a leader and Lock looks like he’s having fun both on the field as well as on the sideline, rapping along to some of his favorite tunes. While football is a multi-billion dollar business, it’s important to remember it’s all just a game, one which can be played best when the athletes don’t take themselves too seriously.

However, we only have five games to evaluate from Lock, and while the team went 4-1, he was mostly mediocre to start his career.

That win over the Texans was the outlier, a wildly accurate (81 percent) 300-yard and 3-touchdown passing day. Three of his games were mediocre — an average of 168 yards per game with a total of 4 TDs and one INT — while the last game against Kansas City was just plain bad.

And now, we can add in the analytics to the simple statistics, with Pro Football Focus’ QB Annual out.

From PFF:

“It was a small sample size, but Lock threw the ball well up to 10 yards while doing a nice job of avoiding negatively graded throws. But even with the Broncos going 4-1 with Lock, he had some help. Altogether, 53.3% of his yards came after the catch, the seventh-highest rate in the league, and he graded last among signal-callers on 10-plus yard throws. Lock flashed the arm that made him a coveted prospect last draft season, but he still has plenty to prove. Most importantly, Lock’s comfort level was much better than what he showed in the preseason — and he has a history of improvement, as he increased his PFF grade in all four years at Missouri.”

The takeaway? Lock is superb at throwing short passes, but his throws over 10 yards need a lot of help.

And, it’s OK if Lock relies on his receivers to run after the catch, but the fact needs to be kept in mind when simply looking at the bottom line of his passing yards.

As we wrote about earlier in the month, Next Gen Stats give us another look into where on the field Lock prospers and where he has to work to improve. And, for the most part, those numbers line up with what PFF is saying.

Drew Lock’s Next Gen Stats courtesy ESPN.

Drew Lock’s Next Gen Stats courtesy ESPN.

Simply, Lock is a rockstar around the line of scrimmage and within 10 yards. His throws to the right over 10 yards are very bad, and his 20-plus yard throws to the left are as well. One added note: Lock’s deep passing between the seams was actually better than average. And, his 10-plus yard throws to the left look solid, too.

So, how does Lock improve in the areas he needs it, namely throwing deep to the sidelines?

Luckily for him, the Broncos are doing everything in their power to help their young quarterback succeed.

They hired “QB whisperer” Pat Shurmur — a former head coach in the NFL — to be the Broncos offensive coordinator. Shurmur has pulled the best out of quarterbacks like Nick Foles and, last year, pushed rookie Daniel Jones to be solid in his first year.

Then, Denver hired Mike Shula, the son of legendary head coach Don Shula as QBs coach. Shula worked under Shurmur last year with Jones — showing the two know how to work with young quarterbacks — and back in the day he helped David Garrard have a great season.

Simply, Lock has all the tools to be that quarterback of the future Broncos fans want him to be, but he’s going to have to work diligently to refine those skills. What it means is 2020 could be another season of waiting for the playoffs while the Broncos allow their young quarterback to work out all the kinks.