Since John Elway took total control of the Broncos’ football operations Jan. 5, 2011, 117 college quarterbacks have been selected in 10 NFL drafts. A dozen have become exceptional Canton types, but none in Denver.
About half of those QBs seem to have passed (literally) through Dove Valley.
But have the Broncos finally found The Chosen One in Drew Lock, who returns Sunday?
Yet another former high pick has come and gone after a fleeting forgettable flash in Colorado. Bronco Blake Bortles, we hardly knew ye. He barely threw, rarely talked.
During Elway’s Ways & Means Period, eight first-round quarterbacks — including Bortles, the No. 3 choice overall in 2014 — have served with the Broncos. The others were Tim Tebow and Brady Quinn — both on the roster when John arrived — and Peyton Manning (who signed as a free agent), Joe Flacco (traded for), Paxton Lynch (drafted), Mark Sanchez (released in training camp) and Christian Ponder (who nobody remembers had a couple of weeks in town).
The 2011-2020 Broncos medley of quarterbacks also featured second-round prize Brock Osweiler, seventh-round picks Zac Dysert, Trevor Siemian and Chad Kelly and one-time undrafted free agents Case Keenum, Kyle Sloter, Austin Davis, Caleb Hanie and Nick Stevens, and quarterbacks drafted by other teams — Kevin Hogan, Garrett Grayson and Jeff Driskel.
But the Broncos passed over Russell Wilson, the ex-Rockies player, three different picks in the 2012 draft, and preferred Osweiler. In 2014 the Broncos were in positions to draft Derek Carr, Teddy Bridgewater or Jim Garoppolo, but offered no interest. The Broncos traded up for Lynch in the first round of 2016, although they could have held off and much later got Dak Prescott.
During the ’17 draft they might have selected C.J. Beathard instead of lousy cornerback-wide receiver wannabe Brendan Langley, and they wouldn’t have been forced onto The Chad Kelly Project, recently ended by the Colts. Obviously, the Broncos won’t reach out to Kelly, especially before Halloween.
And in the 2018 draft the Broncos had chances at Josh Allen, who Elway closely followed at Wyoming, and Lamar Jackson.
They decided against grabbing Lock early in the first round last year, but he still was available for their second second-round pick immediately after the Dalton Risner heist.
On the positive side, Elway didn’t choose 100 quarterbacks who turned out maladroit and ordinary.
Now, the Broncos can hope to start Lock for 12 consecutive games and see if he is the Future of the Franchise or another Failure of the Franchise.
Is he Elway or Manning or even Jake Plummer, or is Lock the latest installment of Tommy Maddox, Brian Griese, infamous underachiever Jay Cutler or one-hit wonder Tebow?
Lock has started seven games, winning four. His numbers are not gaudy or great, but they have been rather respectable with 1,236 yards passing (63.4 percent), eight touchdowns and three interceptions, only six sacks and a passer rating of 89.8.
He turns 24 on Nov. 10, two days after the Broncos play in Atlanta.
The Maturation of Lock continued while he was confined to a couch during games. The quarterback said Wednesday he has rethought his approach to being a wild-and-woolly western stunt man. “I watched a lot of football when I was hurt, and I watched a lot of older guys and how they don’t take sacks. They know they’re going to get sacked, and they know where their outlet is in order to get rid of the ball. It’s definitely a part of my game that I can get better at ...’’
The Broncos also need to get better at blocking and running the football as the offense struggles (except vs. the Jets). Just as Phillip Lindsay is coming back, Melvin Gordon is out at the end of a repugnant week in which he was arrested on suspicion of speeding and driving while intoxicated.
The Broncos have averaged fewer than 100 yards rushing per game, and neither Gordon (281 yards) nor Lindsay (24 in his only game) is on any pace to be invited back to a Pro Bowl.
Pat Shurmur has to show more creativity. Broncos offensive coordinators are same old same old.
At least, the Broncos finally are playing again, although a game in New England will not be a pleasantry unless Lock is unlocked.