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John Elway learned a lesson from Russell Wilson and Dak Prescott

(Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)

Drew Lock’s performance against Texans solidified his position as the Broncos starting quarterback for the remainder of the 2019 season and the 2020 season. Denver finally got their guy with Lock.

Lock didn’t earn the starting job, he took it. The reason he was able to take the job was because John Elway learned from past mistakes.

Not only did Elway learn from the mistakes with the quarterbacks he drafted, but he learned from the mistakes from the quarterbacks he didn’t draft.

In the 2012 offseason, the Broncos signed Peyton Manning. Manning was coming off injury and given his age, the expectation was that the Broncos would get three to four years out of the future Hall of Fame quarterback. With an eye to the future, Elway decided to draft a quarterback to develop to replace Manning once he retired.

In the second round of the 2012 NFL Draft, the Broncos selected Brock Osweiler, taking the QB at No. 57 overall. By taking Osweiler in the second round, it was clear the Broncos had plans for Osweiler to become the future quarterback for the team.

In the third round of that same draft, 75th overall, the Seahawks drafted Russell Wilson. From the very beginning, Wilson has proven he is an elite quarterback in the NFL.

Being a third-round pick, Wilson was not being considered to be the starter his rookie season. The Seahawks had signed free-agent quarterback Matt Flynn to a big deal to be the team’s starter.

Once the preseason started, however, it was clear that Wilson was the guy. Every time Wilson took the field, he proved at that very moment he was better than Flynn. Wilson won the starting job and has gone into play in two Super Bowls, winning one. With Wilson at quarterback, the Seahawks are playoff contenders every season.

In 2016, Manning retired and Osweiler had signed with the Texans. The Broncos were coming off of their Super Bowl 50 victory, but had no real stability at quarterback. Denver traded for Mark Sanhcez, but he was just a bridge quarterback at best.

As a potential trade for Colin Kaepernick began to fall through, the Broncos looked to the draft. Denver traded up to No. 26 and drafted an all-time awful pick, Paxton Lynch. The Broncos traded up because the Cowboys were going to draft Lynch if given the opportunity.

The joke was on Elway and the Broncos.

Instead, the Cowboys would end up drafting quarterback Dak Prescott in the fourth round. As a rookie, Prescott stepped in for an injured Tony Romo. Romo had been the starter for the Cowboys for a decade and was an all-time great player for the franchise.

As the season progressed, the growing discussion was whether Prescott would be benched once Romo returned. Prescott made the decision easy for the Cowboys. Dallas finished 13-3 and Prescott threw for 23 touchdowns and only four interceptions. There was no way the Cowboys could bench him. They had their future quarterback.

Prescott currently leads the NFL in passing with 4,122 yards. With his play this season, Prescott is putting himself in a prime position to be one of the highest-paid quarterbacks in NFL history.

When given their opportunity, Wilson and Prescott took the starting job. They were undeniable. Wilson took the job from a high-priced free agent in Flynn and Prescott took the job from a top quarterback and 10-year starter in Romo.

The Broncos passed on both Wilson and Prescott. Elway was so enamored with what Osweiler and Lynch that he failed to realize what they actually were. Elway was overthinking it.

Elway deserves credit. The drafting of Lock differed from players like Osweiler and Lynch.

Some might say the Broncos have gotten lucky with Lock. I disagree. You get lucky with seventh-round picks. Elway did his homework on Lock and knew whom he was drafting. With Lock, the Broncos went deeper than just physical attributes.

Lock has done what Elway has needed somebody to do since Manning retired. Lock didn’t earn the starting job; he took it. Elway needed somebody to make the decision for him. Against the Chargers and Texans, Lock did just that.

Drew Lock is Russell Wilson and Dak Prescott – a player taken outside the first round who was overlooked when he was clearly ready to start in the NFL. He’s a player teams will regret not drafting.

The good news for Elway, he doesn’t have to regret not drafting Drew Lock.


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