I want the best for Drew Lock.
I want to see him in the right situation in the NFL, which is by no means a given. There are a lot of places that Lock could wind up that would be tough fits.
I’m not sold on his potential surroundings with the New York Giants, replacing Tom Brady doesn’t sound fun in New England and I think it’s just best if quarterbacks avoid playing for the Washington Redskins.
There’s another thing with Lock that’s worth accounting for. I hate the idea of him being billed as the opening day starter, nor do I like the scenario in which he has to play in Year 1. I’d like to see Lock follow the Patrick Mahomes plan.
Is that easier said than done? Sure, and obviously it’s no guarantee that Lock will explode like Mahomes did.
But I think with what he still needs to improve in terms of picking up blitzes and hitting intermediate throws, Lock could use a year or 2 on the bench learning behind a veteran.
That’s why these are the 3 places that I’d like to see him end up:
1. Denver Broncos
No doubt about it. And yes, I get that John Elway hasn’t exactly had even a mediocre track record when it comes to drafting quarterbacks. That’s all the more reason for him to do everything in his power to put Lock in the right position to succeed.
Oh, Lock wants a deep threat who can stretch the field like DeSean Jackson? Consider it done. Oh, the Broncos are getting destroyed at left tackle and they need to make a big signing or draft one with the first pick in the upcoming draft? You got it, Drew. Whatever you need.
Lock won’t be rushed into starting with veteran Joe Flacco in town. In a perfect world, the 34-year-old quarterback can stay healthy for an entire season and Lock can take a redshirt year.
The Broncos would have some nice flexibility in 2020 if they saw Lock develop as they hoped he would. They could let Flacco walk without any dead money on the cap if Lock progresses. Or they could still pay Flacco the $20 million he’s owed in 2020 and see if Lock seizes the opportunity as the starter in the event that the would-be 35-year-old quarterback gets hurt.
If the Flacco move was all part of this plan to get Lock — Elway said that he wouldn’t slip past No. 10 in the draft — then it would perfect sense. That hasn’t been said a lot about Elway’s quarterback decisions in recent memory.
2. Cincinnati Bengals
You’re not going to believe this, but no, I don’t believe Andy Dalton will go the Tom Brady route and play into his 40s. I do believe that someone who has never won a playoff game isn’t likely to go beyond 10 years as a franchise’s starter. Dalton has been better than anyone the Bengals have had in decades, but they could cut him without a cap hit after 2019.
That’s not a bad scenario for Lock. He’d have a true No. 1 receiver in A.J. Green, and Lock’s downfield prowess would give the Bengals a better chance to maximize the ability of struggling former first-round pick John Ross. The Bengals have a Pro Bowl-caliber back in Joe Mixon, as well.
There’s also the added benefit of getting to work with a new coach in Zac Taylor. Lock could develop under a quarterback-focused head coach who would be plenty motivated to put the right pieces around him. I have to think that Taylor wants to bring in his own guy, and not let his performance be judged on a middle-of-the-pack quarterback who’s on the wrong side of 30.
Lock would inject life into a franchise that’s been all too familiar with “middle-of-the-pack.”
3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
I almost went with the Los Angeles Chargers here because Philip Rivers is 37, but he’s also coming off his best season in a decade. It could turn into a Brett Favre/Aaron Rodgers situation there, or it could turn into Lock not getting to play for several years like Jimmy Garoppolo in New England.
With the Bucs, there’s the Jameis Winston thing. Obviously there are better guys to learn from on and off the field. There’s the possibility that Winston wakes up and has a prolific year to earn a new contract. But if the Bucs draft Lock, the more likely scenario would be that they’d let Winston walk and let the Lock era begin. It’s for that reason that it seems likely that Tampa would hold off on drafting a quarterback high.
But think about this: Tampa has Bruce Arians now. Lock would get to work with one of the game’s best offensive minds, and he’d get to do so with a bevy of weapons to work with. Between Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, Adam Humphries and O.J. Howard — all of whom are 25 and under — there would be big-time targets galore for Lock.
Ask guys like Andrew Luck or Carson Palmer how beneficial it is to play for Arians. Lock would love to walk into that type of situation.
And if it does happen, well, you can say goodbye to Winston in Tampa.