DENVER -- Given a chance, all Drew Lock did was caffeinate the Broncos, showing leadership, self awareness, and a promising skill set.
The Broncos won four of their final five games, finished with a winning home record and left the season with something too long absent at UCHealth Training Center: hope.
Lock used time on injured reserve to recover from a thumb injury, make mechanical tweaks, and study practice film to accelerate his learning curve. General manager John Elway and coach Vic Fangio left impressed, their actions this offseason showing they are committed to Lock. They passed on free agent quarterbacks like Tom Brady and Teddy Bridgewater, and aren't eyeing one in the first round.
The hard part for Lock? Year Two.
This is the time many players take their biggest step forward in their careers, and for Lock it must be accomplished in the new normal. That means no receiver camps -- Lock was planning one. That means no in-person team offseason training activities -- it will be virtual four days a week beginning roughly on April 27.
So how is Lock handling the offseason from his parents home outside of Kansas City?
“I’m good, just trying to keep my schedule the same as best as possible and (being smart)," Lock texted to Denver7.
Lock, who finished with 1,020 yards passing, seven touchdowns and three interceptions, showed teammates a willingness to roll up his sleeves last season. That cannot be overstated in a league where quarterbacks are CEOs of Fortune 500 companies.
Lock understands the responsibility, knows he must keep improving.
"I think a good QB should be scared of letting himself down. You know all the work he has done to get to this point, you can’t just let it go to waste," Lock told Denver7. "I think the best ones remember how many other people you could let down by not being at your best and invested 100%!”
All-Rookie left guard Dalton Risner roomed with Lock last spring, observing his study habits. He believes in Lock.
"Drew is a young guy who gets a chance to play in the NFL for five games, wins four of the five. He does it in fashion, he does it with swagger, and he gets a team behind him, and I think that’s so huge. I think he has taken his offseason seriously," Risner told Denver7 last week. "I know that Drew works hard, and I know he is passionate about his craft."
Last year the Broncos were floundering toward irrelevancy. The Bills trounced Denver on Nov. 24, holding the Broncos to 134 yards, their worst total since 1992.
Brandon Allen finished 10-for-25 for 82 yards, including four yards passing in the second half. At 3-8 and unofficially scratched from the postseason, there remained little reason not to play Lock, a second-round pick. With the 2020 draft ripe with quarterback prospects, the Broncos, at the least, needed a read on the former Missouri star.
Lock lost only once, struggling at Kansas City. Most notably, he didn't repeat mistakes during his successful stint.
"I think he’s the right guy to lead this organization and I am willing to stand by that whether I am right or wrong," Risner said. "I am sold that I am going to be right by that."