The majority of the NFL world is located in Drew Lock, including a large group of Denver Broncos fans, but veteran corner back Chris Harris Jr. is not about to rival the midfielder in Year Two.
With Broncos close to the road to face Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday, Harris – who now hangs his soccer hat in Tinsletown – knows Luke well after spending his entire 2019 with him in Denver. Harris has seen all the size and shape of midfielders the NFL has to offer over the course of his decade in the league, and while acknowledging that Locke’s turnover should be underestimated, he has also cautioned against taking his former teammate seriously.
“This year was much tougher for Drew than last year,” Harris said on Wednesday during his phone call to the Denver media. “He’s been groggy with his flips. But he can still feel hot and cause those throws and tear you. You can never sleep on Drew. He’s just had problems turning around. He has to clean that up.”
Harris was there when Locke took over at the start of last year in Week 13, leading to the Broncos defeating Shipper. Harris was there to see Locke getting his lunch by the bosses at the first snow game of QB’s career and he was there to see him recover and win his last match to finish 4-1 as a rookie.
Luke has a juice with his teammates and around the league. Recently, however, his faith in the media and his fan base has diminished.
One of the reasons for this? QB’s envy is always the greenest grass bred by men like Justin Herbert.
Herbert is one of those rookies who went straight from the box to shredded in the NFL with very few bumps in the way. While this type of QB is becoming increasingly more common, it is still the exception to the rule.
Base is Ryan Tannhill. The exception is Joe Boro.
Al Qaeda Baker Mayfield. The exception is Kyler Murray – although he didn’t excel as a beginner despite all 16 games starting in Arizona last year.
Locke’s path was the most traditional. Contrasts and choppy operation punctuate flashes of brilliance here and there. This is how most QBs in the league play with no strength left.
This includes the likes of Aaron Rodgers who led the Packers to 6-10 place in his first year as a rookie only to take a quantum leap forward the following year and finish at 11-5. Look at Drew Brees, who is also a former second round pick as Lock, who also went 8-8 in his first 16 matches initially in 2001.
Brees went 2-9 the following year as a rookie but in its fourth year, Charger jumped forward to finish 12-4. I can keep going, but you get the point. Even stars from outside the penalty area like Herbert, who recently broke the record for passing the ball for beginners, rarely make it to the ranking.
It’s also worth noting that face to face it’s Lock 1 and Herbert 0 so far.
Lock is 8-8 as a beginner during his first 16 matches, achieving 57.7 passes, 3350 yards and 21 touchdowns while throwing 13 interceptions. Brees didn’t reach such numbers until his fourth year in league and third as a rookie.
Harris’s notes about Locke crystallize the fact that Locke has the tools and intangibles to make him into this league, but he’s still very deep in the “process”. Broncos fans are impatient, although not all of Locke’s fault, due to the past five years of qualifying absenteeism.
Locke becomes the boy who whips and targets fans who are justifiably frustrated, tired, and weary of loss. But if you stay there, for a little longer, all of that pain, sadness, and sacrifice can pay off in a big and bad way as Locke continues to evolve and gain valuable head start experience in the NFL.
Then again, it can end up locked up like countless other premium QBs and be chewed and spit out by NFL. The Bronco doesn’t think such a fate awaits Locke and it seems that Harris, now a competitor, doesn’t do it either. Take heart in that.