ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Broncos quarterback Drew Lock entered the 2019 NFL Draft after a senior season in which he threw for 28 touchdowns, eight interceptions and completed a career-best 62.9 percent of his passes.
The previous season, Lock threw for 44 touchdowns and set a single-season SEC record in that category.
The record stood for two seasons, until LSU's Joe Burrow threw for 60 scores in his Heisman-winning 2019 season.
Burrow will soon enter the NFL, likely as the No. 1-overall pick in Thursday's 2020 NFL Draft. And while Lock was discussed among the likes of Kyler Murray, Daniel Jones and Dwayne Haskins, it's worth considering where Lock would've ranked among this year's crop.
During a recent interview with DenverBroncos.com, NFL Network's Daniel Jeremiah said Lock would have ranked third in a class that includes Burrow, Tua Tagovailoa, Justin Herbert, Jordan Love, Jalen Hurts, Jake Fromm and a slew of others.
"He would be my third guy," Jeremiah said. "He would've been behind, for me, Joe Burrow and Tua. [He] would've been in that conversation with Herbert, but I would've probably had him over Herbert. I gave them the exact same grade, but I think Lock's a little bit more of a playmaker. Herbert's a little bit more conservative. You can kind of split those hairs either way."
Herbert is the 20th-ranked player in Jeremiah's latest ranking of the top 2020 prospects. By comparison, Lock ranked 24th on his list of the best prospects before last year's draft.
Both Lock and Herbert could have bright futures. Before their respective drafts, NFL.com's Lance Zierlein compared Lock to Matthew Stafford and Herbert to Carson Wentz.
Jeremiah was also high on tight end Noah Fant, whom the Broncos' selected with the 20th-overall pick after trading down with Pittsburgh. Fant and Lock's futures are interwoven, as the Broncos acquired the pick they'd use to trade up for Lock in the trade with Pittsburgh. The Broncos were able to move up in the second round to select Lock with the 42nd-overall pick.
Fant seems like a no-brainer to have been the top tight end in the Class of 2020.
"I liked both those players last year," Jeremiah said. "Drew Lock last year was my third quarterback, so I had him ahead of Daniel Jones — and Daniel Jones obviously went with the sixth pick. I was bullish on Drew. I thought that was a great fit for him there, great value for where they got him.
"And then Noah Fant, look, the athleticism was there. … I think you saw the moments during the season as it went along, you started to see, 'OK, this guy's got some real play-making ability.' I want to say it was the Cleveland game — is that the one where he had the real long touchdown? I remember watching that tape and being like, 'OK, that's the guy I thought they were getting right there out of Iowa.' And he's just going to get better."
Fant, as Jeremiah alluded to, had a 75-yard catch-and-run for a touchdown against the Browns.
Jeremiah said he tends to avoid evaluating his draft grades until the prospects are a few years into the league, but it's clear both Lock and Fant made positive impressions in 2019.
Lock accrued a 4-1 record as a starter, completed 64.1 percent of his passes and threw for seven touchdowns to just three interceptions.
Fant, meanwhile, led all rookie tight ends in nearly every statistical category as he caught 40 passes for 562 yards and three touchdowns.
As they continue their careers, Lock will likely be pegged to Murray, Jones and Haskins, while Fant will be compared to Detroit's T.J. Hockenson.
Whether they were members of the 2019 or 2020 draft classes, this much seems clear: The Broncos found tremendous value in two of their youngest offensive weapons.