The Denver Broncos are running it back with Vic Fangio as their head coach in 2021, but just completed an offseason of change in their front office. With this point of the still-new offseason centered on the quarterback position, the prevailing sentiment became clear Tuesday: The jury is still out on Drew Lock.
Broncos general manager George Paton met with reporters Tuesday for the first time in his new role, in which he'll replace John Elway, who moved up the ladder and out of direct player personnel responsibilities. The two are on the same page about Lock, starting with Elway.
"I'm still high on Drew, I think he's got the physical abilities to do it," Elway said, via KOA's Brandon Krisztal. "I think this year was essentially his rookie year ... Obviously we're gonna continue to look at that position, you always are ... he showed flashes, he had mistakes, all young QBs do."
Paton took a less certain approach to answering the question, essentially telling reporters he needs time to settle in before providing his thoughts on the passer. His head coach backed him, saying he wants Paton to break down Lock's film on his own without the influence of others, so he can have a "sterile, unbiased view" of Lock, via DNVR Sports' Andrew Mason.
Paton admitted Tuesday he's yet to study Lock's film, but says he knows Lock "can develop," per the Denver Post's Kyle Fredrickson. It's clear the QB position will be one of his top priorities moving forward.
"I think we all want the franchise quarterback and that's the No. 1 goal," Paton said. "You try to draft and develop and acquire any way you can. We are looking."
The collective thought from Broncos brass is clear, then: Denver needs more time with Lock before making a decision on his future. Lock finished 2020 with pedestrian numbers, completing 57.3 percent of his passes for 2,933 yards, a 16-15 TD-INT ratio and a passer rating of 75.4. None of those numbers scream franchise quarterback, but surrounding circumstances -- the loss of receiver Courtland Sutton, Lock's early season injury -- must be accounted for when evaluating the quarterback at this point.
As for other key decisions to be made -- chiefly, aging edge rusher Von Miller's future -- Paton was similarly noncommittal, for now.
"All those tough decisions start when I can meet with the coaches and the scouting staff," Paton said. "That's when you get your plan for the offseason."
It sounds as if Paton has plenty of work ahead of him. After finally jumping from Minnesota for a GM job elsewhere, he'll have a busy first offseason at the helm of a team's personnel department. The upcoming season will ultimately provide a first bit of proof of how his efforts impact the Broncos.