What’s on Draft: How Drew Lock’s debut affects Denver’s offseason

Denver Broncos quarterback Drew Lock (3) following the win over the Los Angeles Chargers at Empower Field at Mile High.
Dec 1, 2019; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Broncos quarterback Drew Lock (3) following the win over the Los Angeles Chargers at Empower Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

After a long wait, Drew Lock finally made his starting debut for the Broncos last week.

It’s way too early to know for sure what Lock will be as a franchise quarterback, but his debut made it clear that he’s ready for this league and that he belongs.

So, if Lock continues playing like this down the stretch, how will it affect the Broncos’ draft?

No quarterbacks drafted

Lock playing like a franchise quarterback for the final four games would mean the Broncos couldn’t draft a quarterback high, or at all really. Of course, they wouldn’t target one high, in the first or second round, but it might limit them from taking one late as well.

The Broncos already have strong backup quarterback depth, even if the starting position is still hazy. Undrafted free agent Brett Rypien has played well on the practice squad, and Denver would like to keep him there.

Meanwhile, Brandon Allen has proven to be one of the better backup quarterbacks in the league. Plus, he already has familiarity with the scheme — which should still fall under the Mike Shanahan tree even if Rich Scangarello is canned — the receivers, and the rest of the team and coaching staff.

Plus, there’s a good chance that Joe Flacco is still on the roster next season as a mentor-slash-backup to Lock.

So, if you’re happy with your quarterback room from top to bottom, why draft one? Especially when there are much more pressing needs elsewhere on the roster.

John Elway wheels and deals

It’s been a long time since John Elway had one of his massive free-agent spending sprees that were such a trademark of his early tenure as general manager.

That’s in large part because he hasn’t had the cap room to make splashy deals.

That will be different this season, as the Broncos are primed to have $67 million dollars in cap space next season, and that number goes up $23 million more dollars if they find a way to unload Flacco’s contract. That would allow them to fill multiple needs and surround Lock with the talent he needs to flourish early.

Once you find your young franchise quarterback, it frees you up to acquire players like crazy, given the quarterback’s incredibly cheap rookie deal. It’s a model we’ve seen successfully executed with the Rams, Eagles, Chiefs and Ravens, and the Broncos would be wise to follow suit.

Heavy offensive draft

The Broncos should look to build a young offensive core around Lock that can grow and develop with him.

For Denver, the tight end and running back positions appear set for the future with Jeff Heuerman and Noah Fant, and Phillip Lindsay and Royce Freeman respectively. They also have an elite No. 1 receiver in Courtland Sutton.

That being said, the offensive line — Outside of Dalton Risner — and the rest of the receiving core leaves a lot to be desired.

Fortunately, this draft is set to house the best wide receiver class of the century, and a really strong offensive line class too.

The Broncos could take one of the draft’s best tackles with their first pick, and still potentially wind up with a receiver like Colorado’s Laviska Shenault or Alabama’s Devonta Smith.

That’s because this receiving class not only has incredible high-end talent, but amazing depth. That mix creates a cocktail which should lead to receivers that should go early, sliding down the draft boards.

Plenty of teams may pass up a stud receiver in the first round because they know they can still get a Tylan Wallace out of Oklahoma State late in the third, and he’s extraordinarily gifted in his own right.

If the Broncos take advantage of that slide early and often, they could have one of the league’s most dangerous receiving corps in a hurry.

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