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How quickly can Drew Lock become the leader of the Broncos?

(Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images)

The Broncos hope they have a franchise quarterback in second-year pro Drew Lock. They selected him in the second round of the 2019 NFL Draft, but a thumb injury forced him to miss most of his rookie season. Lock did start a handful of games at the end of the year and he went 4-1 as the team’s starter.

Those five games are not enough. The franchise and the fan base are hopeful that Lock can continue to develop and turn into the franchise quarterback the team has been looking for since Peyton Manning retired. For Lock to be the franchise quarterback for the Broncos, he needs to emerge as the leader of the team.

What entails being a leader? What type of player will teammates follow? How long will it take for Lock to be the leader of the team? Let’s take a look.

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Veteran Buy-In

The first thing Lock must do is get “buy in” from the veterans on the roster. Lock has to find a way to earn the respect of the players who have done it for years in the NFL. With the support of his teammates, Lock will be able to thrive in tough times.

One of the best veterans on the team, a leader himself, is safety Kareem Jackson. Earlier this year, Jackson had some strong words of support for the young quarterback.

“I think he handled himself well. I know I’m looking for him to do some great things this year, especially going 4-1 in his first starts. I’m eager to see him step in and be the guy day one, and see the way he’ll progress throughout practice and the way he’ll get better and just progressing throughout the year and just leading this team. I think he has that type of capability that he can go out and be a big-time leader for us and he can go out and make some things happen on Sunday for us and put some points up,” Jackson said.

Not only does Jackson think Lock can be a leader, but he thinks he can be a big-time leader. I’ve been around Jackson to know that he doesn’t sugarcoat his comments. This is how he truly believes, and his comments say a lot.

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Impress the Coaches

Lock would be given more freedom to take the lead if he impresses the coaching staff in his second season. Broncos head coach Vic Fangio tosses around compliments like they’re manhole covers, so one should never expect him to go overboard when praising any player – especially a young player who has yet to fully prove himself.

Fangio did comment this week on Lock’s progress through the virtual offseason. Lock is learning a new offense with Pat Shurmur hired to take over for last year’s offensive coordinator Rich Scangarello. Any doubters of Lock’s ability to take the next step really need to listen to what Fangio said about the second-year starter.

“I think he’s going a good job. I think he’s picked up right where he left off last year. I think he’s done a great job learning the new offense. He’s done a great job with (offensive Coordinator) Pat (Shurmur) and (quarterbacks coach) Mike Shula, dealing with them on a daily basis with the Zoom meetings. I know he’s leading workouts with the players locally here where some of them get together and try and run the routes and the new concepts we’re teaching. He’s ready to go,” Fangio said.

Notice how Fangio said Lock was leading his teammates this offseason. Lock has been getting together with some of his offensive weapons to run routes and throw passes. He’s not getting a full offseason of installation, but Lock has taken it upon himself to do as much as he can during this coronavirus pandemic.

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Win Games

It all comes down to winning games in the NFL. Lock can earn the respect of his teammates and coaches, but it won’t matter much if he doesn’t win. Some may have been concerned about Lock just getting “handed” the job this offseason. There was a small buzz about how he would handle things and if he would get complacent with his effort because he was anointed the starter.

I always felt that was a silly notion by the naysayers out there. Lock is motivated to prove that he is one of the best young quarterbacks in the league. I’ve talked to Lock enough to know that for him it’s not about proving the doubters wrong but proving his supporters right. Oh yeah, it’s about winning games for him too.

“It means a lot to me to see that happen,” Lock said about the team building around him this offseason. “It puts a little extra confidence on my back. Now at the same time, those expectations do rise when you have so many weapons around you, but I like to say that I hold myself to high expectations. I like to put pressure on myself in general. I think the pressure that I put on myself always outweighs the pressure that comes from media or even friends and family. I feel like the pressure that I hang on my head always means the most in the end to me.”

Lock understands the pressure he’s under as the leader of this team. He also understands that this team has built around him because they support him and believe in his ability. In 2020, it’s time for Lock to show that he is the leader of this team.

So when will Lock become the leader of the Broncos? As soon as possible.