In the wake of the 2020 NFL Draft, President of Football Operations/General Manager John Elway made the media rounds at NBC to discuss the team's newest draft class and second-year quarterback Drew Lock.
In interviews with Mike Tirico and Rich Eisen, Elway explained the Broncos' decision to draft wide receiver Jerry Jeudy, why the Broncos were surprised at how the board fell and how the Chiefs have influenced the rest of the league.
Here, then, are the highlights from the two interviews:
ADDING A PAIR OF RECEIVERS
The Broncos drafted former Alabama wide receiver Jerry Jeudy with the 15th-overall pick and then doubled down by selecting Penn State wideout KJ Hamler in the second round.
But if you had told Elway that Jeudy would still been on the board at No. 15, it seems unlikely that he would've believed you.
"I'd have said there's about a 10 percent chance of that," Elway told Eisen.
Elway said that in all the conversations the Broncos had and the mock drafts the executed, Jeudy didn't seem like an option at 15th overall.
"Jerry never got to us in our mock drafts," Elway told Eisen.
Still, the Broncos held tight and decided not to trade up.
"With where we were as a football team, draft capital was more important than moving up," Elway told Eisen.
Denver lucked out, as Jeudy fell to No. 15. Aiding in that process was Oakland's decision to draft Henry Ruggs III at No. 12. Elway said they did not expect the Raiders to move in that direction.
"No, that was a bit of a surprise," Elway told Eisen. "… I don't know if there was ever a mock with Ruggs going at 12."
Once the Broncos secured Jeudy, the 2018 Biletnikoff Award winner, they moved again to draft Hamler. Elway told Eisen he believes they wouldn't have had the chance to pick Hamler had they not taken Jeudy.
"Not knowing how the first round was going to go, I was still prepared to go receiver-receiver, and I know that it helped us going receiver-receiver because of the fact that if we hadn't gone receiver in the first round, I think there would've been a lot of people that would've tried to jump us in the second round," Elway told Eisen. "There were a lot of people behind us that kind of let us know that Hamler was their guy. But with us sitting there, not going up as well as having drafted a wide receiver in the first round, I think people were fine sitting there thinking that we weren't going to draft another receiver."
BECOMING MORE EXPLOSIVE
As the Broncos aim to match up with the Super Bowl LIV champion Kansas City Chiefs, they know their offense must improve.
Denver averaged just 17.6 points per game in 2019, which ranked 28th in the league, and its offense hasn't been truly explosive since 2014.
That's why adding speed via Hamler and tight end Albert Okwuegbunam was essential.
"We knew offensively we had to step it up," Elway told Tirico. "We had to get more explosive on the offensive side, so it was our game plan, and our goal was to go in this year and give Drew Lock some help and get some people around him to get more explosive. We've been putting a lot of pressure on our defense since we won the Super Bowl back in 2015. So with Drew and the [way] that he ended last year, with his five starts, to be able to put some explosiveness around him, we feel like we were able to do that."
That should better prepare the Broncos for six combined matchups next year against the Chiefs, Raiders and Chargers.
"The days of 3 yards and a cloud of dust are behind us," Elway told Tirico. "But that's why you have to be explosive on the offensive side and be able to put some points on the board, especially with Patrick Mahomes in our division, as well as the Raiders are coming on — and the Chargers have drafted Herbert too. We're going to have a heck of a battle in the AFC West."
BUILDING AROUND LOCK:
Last year's second-round pick Drew Lock has appeared in just five games, but after a 4-1 finish to the year, the Broncos seem committed to building around the Missouri product.
"I think the thing about quarterbacks [is] you can see the physical talent on tape," Elway told Eisen. "You can see how they throw it, how they move, how they go through reads, how they're able to get through reads and progressions and all that. You can see all that on tape, and I always think the No. 1 thing with quarterbacks that's difficult to read is how they're going to handle the situation, how they're going to handle the pressure of the NFL when the lights get turned on. How are they going to handle it? Eighty percent of the quarterbacks that fail … they can't adjust to that and can't get used to that and understand the expectations of them in that position. … We knew [Lock] had the physical ability to move around. He [ran] a 4.6 at the Combine. But how he was going to handle the whole situation with the lights turned on, and I think that was the most encouraging thing that we saw was he enjoyed playing the game. He came in like he'd been there before. He was able to bounce back from mistakes and not let mistakes bother him. … What we saw mostly in those last five games that he started, [was that] he has the mental capacity not only to handle the offense but also to handle all the things outside that with all the pressure that goes along with being the quarterback."
Despite a virtual offseason program, the Broncos are hopeful Lock can continue to make progress.
"Obviously, he still has a ways to go," Elway told Tirico. "He's only started five games. He was on IR for 10 weeks before that last year. This offseason is going to hurt him a little bit because we haven't been able to get in there, but [he's] a guy we really feel like has a chance to be a good football player in this league for a long time."
And as Lock continues with his development, Elway said he's always available as a resource.
"I like having conversations with him," Elway said. "I don't do a lot of that, because as a quarterback, they're getting instruction from a lot of different points of view from their coaches — offensive coordinator, as well as their quarterbacks coach. [The] head coach jumps in there every once in a while, too. My thing is big picture with him. My deal is to be there for support, help him through the different times that he's going through that I can give him my experience and how I got through there. There's no question, the conversations I have with him were definitely on the big picture of planning not necessarily each different play, but the idea of how to play the game and how to handle everything that goes along with that position. The door's always open. I talk to Drew. I haven't talked to him a lot this offseason, but [I] definitely plan on talking to him more."