In 2021, Drew Lock gets another chance at starting QB. The question is, will this pay off or be another wasted year of the talented roster in Denver?
Vic Fangio’s regime started out promising in 2019 as the Broncos finished second in the AFC West with a record of 7-9. Many thought they would be taking a step forward with adding offensive weapons of Jerry Jeudy and KJ Hamler. Instead, Drew Lock regressed in almost every statistical category in 2020, and, depending on how Lock plays in 2021, Fangio will either sink or swim. Let’s take a look at the offense after the 2021 NFL Draft and Free Agency.
2021 Free Agency
The Broncos did not do much offensively in free agency. They switched out Philip Lindsay for Mike Boone and added a couple of free-agent offensive lineman to help bolster the offense, which ranked 13th in rushing in 2020.
The biggest move that the Broncos made was trading for Teddy Bridgewater, even though they only gave up a late-round draft pick. To me, this means Lock is the starter heading into camp, but they picked up insurance if he falters early on.
2021 NFL Draft
Leading up to the draft, there was talk of the Broncos trading for a disgruntled Aaron Rodgers, but that never came to fruition. The Broncos were also in a position to draft a QB in the first round but decided to pass on Justin Fields and Mac Jones. Ultimately, this decision could come back to bite them, but they wanted to give Lock another chance, which is interesting seeing as the pass offense was 26th in the NFL last year.
Javonte Williams, RB, UNC – Round 2, Pick 35
Williams was rated as the third-best back in the Draft and, in 2020, on his way to scoring 19 TDs, showed off his ability as a complete back. While Williams is a physical back (4.5 avg yard after contact), he also showed his big-play ability with over 56% of his runs being over 15 yards. Williams looks to be sharing the backfield with Gordon this year but taking over in the near future.
Quinn Meinerz, C, Wisconsin Whitewater – Round 3, Pick 98
Since his season was canceled in 2020, Meinerz used that time to work on his game in preparation for an invite to the senior bowl. Scouts were impressed by Meinerz’s play against tougher competition and he was a big riser up the board’s pre-draft. Meinerz is pegged to play Center, but with his quick feet and agility, he could get some time at Guard. He will probably need a year to get developed into a contributor, but this is a great prospect for the Broncos.
Seth Williams, WR, Auburn – Round 6, Pick 35
I will be honest — Williams was one of my favorite prospects to look at before the draft. He was great in contested catch situations and showed great ability after the catch. There were questions about his effort at Auburn, but I thought that was scheme and QB-related. I guess the NFL did not have the same opinion, as Williams fell to the sixth and most likely will not be a big contributor with the loaded Denver WR depth chart.
Broncos Offense 2021 and Team Outlook
I wonder if the coaching staff is under fire to win right away. If so, then passing on a rookie QB who could help the future makes more sense, but does not ensure wins in 2021. The return of Courtland Sutton from injury will help the offense in many ways, as in his absence Jeudy, Hamler, and Patrick all had to play a spot up the depth chart when they maybe were not ready.
The offense has all the pieces to be successful, but Lock will need to improve on his decision-making and get the ball out to the playmakers. The Broncos drafted some nice defensive pieces and also get Vonn Miller back. The main problem is that the Chiefs are projected to be at the top of the division and the Chargers seem to be stiff competition as well, so the Broncos will have to settle for a fight for the sixth or seventh wildcard spot to get in the playoffs in 2021.
Broncos Fantasy Football Relevant Players
- Drew Lock –IDP GUYS SF ADP 106.5 -QB 34
- Lock is a fine fill-in QB with promise as a solid second QB in Superflex, but the only worry is how long will he be the QB. He could be replaced midseason, so I would not take that gamble and avoid him if possible in startup drafts.
- Melvin Gordon – IDP GUYS SF ADP 74.5 -RB 26
- Gordon is a player who needs volume and TDs to show good fantasy value. This year, he probably will have the edge, but in dynasty, I would not want to draft him just for one year — there are better options. If you already have him, I would hold him, then try to trade him when he has a good game.
- Javonte Williams – IDP GUYS SF ADP 61.75 -RB 24
- I personally would want Javonte as the second rookie back, behind Najee Harris in Pittsburgh. Once he sees touches and impresses, he could take over the major share of touches at the RB position. Rookie fever is real in startups, and you may have to draft him a little early, but I think he could be worth it in the long run for dynasty.
- Courtland Sutton – IDP GUYS SF ADP 78.5 -WR 26
- I believe that Sutton is being under drafted after his injury in 2020. He was a top 20 WR in 2019 and I feel like he can do that again. With the weapons the Broncos have, this should allow for less double coverage.
- Jerry Jeudy – IDP GUYS SF ADP 92.75 -WR 35
- Many were disappointed in Jeudy’s rookie season, but he still put together a respectable season with over 800 yards. The catch percentage and TDs were not there, but much of that can be attributed to poor QB play and lack of another WR when Sutton went down due to injury. I think Jeudy will have a bounce-back year, but his ceiling is limited because I don’t know how many weapons can be supported by Lock.
- Noah Fant – IDP GUYS SF ADP 83.25 -TE 7
- Fant improved from a top 16 to a top 8 TE in his second year. This was with poor QB play, which may not change in 2021, but if that is his floor, that is fine. After the top three, I think he has the talent to be right in the top five list of TEs. He is definitely a “buy” in dynasty — once they get the QB position upgraded, he could be able to have top three TE numbers.
The Broncos are in a position to compete now with the talent that they have, they need the QB to not turn the ball over and get it to the playmakers. They have two very good complimentary RBs, two playmaking WRs, and an athletic young TE, and that does not even include speedy KJ Hamler, drafted in the second round in 2020. The Broncos could look very improved, but that might not be enough when competing with the Chargers and Chiefs in the division.