University of Missouri

‘A little more pressure’: Rookie quarterback Drew Lock training, developing in Denver

Mizzou QB Drew Lock highlights from sixth grade

Mizzou quarterback Drew Lock has been throwing bombs since sixth grade, and here are the highlights to prove it.
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Mizzou quarterback Drew Lock has been throwing bombs since sixth grade, and here are the highlights to prove it.

Drew Lock made his presence felt immediately.

The rookie quarterback from Lee’s Summit dropped back, checked his options and threw a deep ball to wide receiver Brendan Langley for a 50-yard score — his first substantial moment of Denver Broncos training camp at UCHealth Training Center.

It was a double-go route, and as soon as Lock called the play in the huddle, Langley told him to let the ball fly. That was Thursday.

“Hopefully, there’s going to be a lot more of that,” Langley said.

But one throw wasn’t enough to convince first-year Broncos coach Vic Fangio.

“He’s not a quarterback yet,” Fangio said Friday. “He’s a hard-throwing pitcher that doesn’t know how to pitch yet.”

Lock responded Saturday, sending the fans into a frenzy by completing a near-impossible 46-yard pass to receiver Juwann Winfree, who went up in double coverage and barely kept his feet in-bounds to make the grab.

While Lock impressed many, this is only the beginning.

He’s just 22 years old, a recent graduate of Missouri, an SEC single-season passing-touchdown record holder and a newbie at the highest level of football.

“It’s definitely a little more pressure,” Lock said.

A short-lived holdout

A few weeks before Denver opened training camp, many fans were concerned the second-round pick wouldn’t participate. He was supposedly looking for the so-called quarterback premium in his first contract, and missed a conditioning test during his holdout.

On the eve of training camp, the thought was that Lock wouldn’t be in attendance. But he wasn’t going to let that happen.

“I told my agency beforehand that if it got to a point where I was missing practice then there was no chance we were going to go on with it,” he said. “The most important thing to me was getting out here.”

Lock signed a four-year deal the day before camp. He did not get the quarterback premium he’d sought, but his agreement with the Broncos includes bonuses in the final two years of his contract — something uncommon for a second-round selection.

Even though Tom Condon, Tom Condon Jr. and Jimmy Sexton of Creative Artists Agency (CAA), the most powerful agency in the NFL, are Lock’s agents, the rookie quarterback told them to stand down.

“I was anxious to get on the field, but I knew we were trying to get things worked out,” he said. “Missing anything else is just not who I am. When it came down to it, I was going to be here to start practice.”

When Lock arrived on time for the opening day of training camp, he was submerged into a quarterback room that includes 34-year-old veteran Joe Flacco, third-year veteran and former Chiefs backup Kevin Hogan, and fellow rookie Brett Rypien, a four-year starter at Boise State from 2015-18.

The job is Flacco’s to lose, and it’s unlikely that’ll happen.

But the future seems to be all Lock, as he has taken second-team reps over Hogan and Rypien throughout the early stages of camp.

“Flacco has a huge arm; Drew has a huge arm,” Winfree said. “I like catching both of them. Whoever is throwing me the ball, I’m trying to catch it. I love them both.”

“I think we have some of the best quarterbacks in the league,” Langley added.

Those around Lock have already noticed his skill-set, but Fangio — the one who puts the players on the field — isn’t yet sold on the 6-foot-4, 230-pound signal-caller.

Fangio seeks improvement

Fangio described Flacco as a quarterback who owns a collected demeanor but remains a fiery competitor. He hasn’t said much about Lock, besides making it clear he wants the rookie to show improvement in each aspect of the game.

“Command of the offense, command of the line of scrimmage, decisions on where to throw the ball — how quickly he can make those decisions,” Fangio said when asked what he wants to see from Lock in camp. “Everything. Just become a quarterback.”

The timetable for Lock’s development is unknown to all parties involved, but Lock said he’s trying to soak up as much knowledge as he can from offensive coordinator Rich Scangarello.

“I love that guy,” Lock said. “He teaches in such an awesome way. He’ll let you go out there and make a mistake and not rip you for that mistake unless you go back out there and do it again. Coming from a quarterback standpoint, at least me, I like that kind of coaching. Let us go out there and fail a little bit, throw everything at us.”

During Lock’s four-year career at Missouri, he completed 883 of 1,553 passes for 12,193 yards, 99 touchdowns and 39 interceptions. But Fangio last week appeared to take a shot at Missouri’s coaching staff and playbook, saying Lock wasn’t ready for the NFL.

Fangio was likely referring to former Mizzou offensive coordinator Josh Heupel’s air raid-spread offense, which had a select amount of routes for receivers and looked for Lock get rid of the ball quickly. Current Missouri offensive coordinator Derek Dooley, who took over for Heupel, introduced more pro concepts into MU’s offense for Lock’s senior season.

“His college offense had no carryover to pro offenses,” said Fangio, 60, who’s coached in the NFL for 30-plus years but is starting his first season as a head coach in the league. “He was under duress a lot. I don’t think he’s as far along being an NFL-ready QB as he could have been.”

Since training camp started, Lock has been focusing on perfecting his footwork. The Broncos’ coaches sent him home with film of Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan and San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo.

Lock watched the tapes, went through the playbook and attempted to time his footwork with the routes.

“I’m just debriefing back through the playbook and trying to match my footwork up with everything to help me play more smooth out here,” Lock said. “Taking every single rep in and being able to go back inside and watch it over again and learn some more will be good for me.”

While Lock might be wearing the same No. 3 jersey he did with Missouri, his world has flipped upside down since becoming a Bronco.

This is Lock’s first NFL opportunity and he doesn’t plan to let it slip away.

“The whole Broncos organization is obviously very important to Denver and the state of Colorado,” he said. “It’s awesome to be a part of.”

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