Drew Lock’s good week continues with drafting of receiver and center – The Denver Post
Aside from the unblocked blitzer delivering a jaw-rattling hit or the after-a-loss video sessions, most days are fun for an NFL quarterback.
Fun is the best way to describe Drew Lock’s week … and he didn’t throw a pass, didn’t meet with new offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur and didn’t play a game.
And yet, the Broncos quarterback won the week.
Monday: General manager John Elway expresses confidence in Lock’s immediate and long-term future.
“We feel that he’s the guy,” Elway said. “We really liked what we saw (last year).”
Thursday: The Broncos weren’t forced to trade up from No. 15 to have Alabama receiver Jerry Jeudy fall into their collective lap.
“Best route runner in the draft,” an NFL coordinator said Friday. “Probably the best all-around receiver. A really solid pick.”
Friday: Bypassing other needs, the Broncos chose speedy Penn State receiver KJ Hamler in the second round (No. 46 overall) and then, rather amazingly, saw LSU center Lloyd Cushenberry tumble to the third round (No. 75). In just the opening three rounds of the NFL draft, Lock saw his boss acquire Jeudy (immediate starter/contributor), Hamler (can play outside or in the slot) and Cushenberry (immediate Week 1 starter).
The goal is obvious: The Broncos need to add a shot of caffeine to their offense — an offense that has been consistently impotent for too many years and through too many quarterbacks and play-callers.
“We’re looking to make our offense a little bit more stressful for people to defend,” coach Vic Fangio said after the first round.
Fangio, the sage defensive play-caller, knows the Broncos’ offense didn’t really worry anybody last year.
They had receiver Courtland Sutton, who was steadily double-teamed in the red zone. They had tight end Noah Fant, who experienced the usual rookie ups and downs. And they had running back Phillip Lindsay. That’s it. The lack of playmakers produced a stacked deck for then-coordinator Rich Scangarello.
Defenses knew if they bottled up Lindsay on first down, it would make any of the Broncos’ three quarterbacks look for Sutton on second and third downs. Sutton won his share of battles, but his numbers in 2020 might be even better than 72 catches-1,112 yards-six touchdowns.
The Broncos entered Friday night with one second-round pick and three third-round selections. But again, Elway showed the proper patience, waiting for the board to come to him instead of giving up at least one of the third-rounders to move up in round 2.
That the Broncos had targeted Hamler allowed them to stay at No. 46. Listed at 5 feet, 8 5/8 inches and 178 pounds, taking him at that stage did feel a little early, particularly when other needs like cornerback, center, offensive tackle, inside linebacker and defensive line had yet to be addressed.
If Hamler turns into a quick-twitch, get-cornerbacks-on-their-heels No. 3 option and valuable return man, the pick makes sense. It’s bad news for DaeSean Hamilton, Hamler’s Penn State teammate, who is now at least fourth on the depth chart. And it might be bad news for returner Diontae Spencer.
Not taking Cushenberry at No. 46 was a gamble. Not taking him at No. 77 was befuddling at the time, particularly when Atlanta took center Matt Hennessy at No. 78, right after the Broncos selected cornerback Michael Ojemudia.
But the Broncos still got Cushenberry, whose LSU tape is eye-popping because of his athleticism (stays on his feet), power (can handle bull rushes) and leadership (the quarterback of the Tigers’ national champion offensive line).
The Broncos needed to come out of night 2 of the draft with a center in general, and a center who could start in particular. Like they did last year with left guard Dalton Risner, the Broncos and offensive line coach Mike Munchak shouldn’t overthink things and put Cushenberry with the 1s whenever there is a team drill.
Jeudy, Hamler and Cushenberry join a young offensive core that can grow together for two, maybe three years. Sutton and Lindsay are entering their third seasons. Lock, Risner and Fant their second seasons. Plus, right guard Graham Glasgow is a key addition.
“I love that,” Cushenberry said of the young offensive group. “We’re going to grow together. We’re going to go through some things, but at the end of the day, we’re going to get better. I feel like it will be an explosive offense.”
An explosive offense hasn’t been spotted around these parts since 2014. Young players make mistakes, so expect that. But they will also show rapid improvement. Is it a playoff offense? Not yet. But is it an interesting offense? Totally.
That we’re talking about the Broncos’ offense in a potentially positive light is why Lock had such a good week.