There’s a general consensus that in today’s world that the development curve for almost anything is highly accelerated compared to even a couple decades prior.
That certainly extends to sports. Young players with heavy draft capital attached are often put into “sink-or-swim” mode much quicker than many might expect.
Broncos second-year quarterback Drew Lock is a fitting Exhibit A. After an encouraging late-season starting stint in 2019, hopes and expectations are high for the second-year gunslinger going into what promises to be a unique 2020 season.
Naturally, the 23-year-old still has his work cut out for him in terms of breaking into the upper echelon of quarterbacks. General manager and franchise legend John Elway is trying to help him get there as quick as possible by outfitting him with plenty of offensive weapons.
But oddsmakers are unsurprisingly still keeping a slightly less than middle-of-the-road view.
Best Drew Lock prop odds
Drew Lock NFL MVP odds
Lock is a hefty +5500 to win NFL MVP at FanDuel Sportsbook. That ranks his odds 24th in the market, including 22nd among quarterbacks. For perspective, consider that the league’s pace-setter, Mahomes, leads the field with a +380 figure.
We have seen league MVPs come out of nowhere in the past, as Jackson (2019 MVP) and Mahomes (2018 MVP) soared to the league’s most prestigious award in their sophomore campaigns. Going back a couple of decades, quarterbacks like Kurt Warner (1999, 2001 MVP) and Rich Gannon (2002 MVP) vaulted their level of play dramatically to be honored as the NFL’s top player.
The most lucrative odds on Lock to win MVP in 2020 are at PointsBet, with the former Missouri star coming in at +8000.
Drew Lock NFL passing yardage
DraftKings Sportsbook lists Lock’s Over/Under NFL season passing yardage prop at 3450.5 yards. That figure slots him ahead of only those currently assigned to Josh Allen (3300.5), Lamar Jackson (3250.5) and Cam Newton (2950.5) and draws him even with that of Ryan Tannehill’s.
All four quarterbacks, despite their prominent names, have scheme- or opportunity-centered (Newton) question marks attached.
That mark of 3450.5 is certainly attainable for Lock. Many quarterbacks begin finding their groove in their second year, some of the best examples being Jackson, Mahomes, Peyton Manning and Ben Roethlisberger. Broncos fans would obviously be ecstatic if Lock came anywhere close to those levels of performance.
Operating with the type of limited playbook you’d typically expect a rookie quarterback to be entrusted with, Lock averaged a very modest 204.0 passing yards per game in his five late-season starts.
That figure should naturally bump up this year. However, Lock is also tasked with already having to adapt to a second play-caller in as many seasons – former Giants head coach Pat Shurmur was brought in as offensive coordinator in January.
To pass for the most yards in the league, Lock is +5000 at PointsBet.
Here are the best odds for NFL passing leader in 2020.
Drew Lock Passing TDs
Lock is +6600 to lead the NFL in passing TDs in 2020, tied with Bengals rookie QB Joe Burrow. He tossed an impressive seven touchdowns in just five games last season, and was a touchdown machine during his collegiate career – throwing 44 TDs in one season (2017). Lock threw 99 total touchdown passes during his Missouri career.
Colorado sports bettors can get Lock’s over – under on TD passes in 2020 at 21.5 at DraftKings.
Despite optimism, elite status likely still down the road
The Missouri product had the somewhat dreaded “project” label affixed as soon as the Broncos nabbed him with the 42nd overall selection in the second round of the 2019 draft.
The prevailing view positioned Lock as an amalgam, style-wise, of another former Denver signal-caller in Jake Plummer and Packers legend Brett Favre – formidable size and arm strength with a healthy dash of inaccuracy and improvisation.
Denver had veteran Joe Flacco set to man the controls and let Lock sit and learn for at least a year. Then, the rookie ended up missing the first 10 weeks of the season with a preseason thumb injury anyhow.
One Flacco neck injury and a Lock recovery later, there was the “project” jumping into game action in Week 13 against the Chargers and holding on to the starting job the rest of the way.
To the surprise of some, there wasn’t much of a baptism by fire for the first-year pro when he replaced Flacco.
Lock completed under 60.0% of his passes in just one of five contests. That came against an aggressive Chiefs secondary in Week 15. The efficiency was a welcome yet unexpected improvement from a college career that saw him post between a 49.0 percent to 57.8 percent completion rate in his first three seasons.
He connected on over 75% of his throws twice during his starting stint. That’s a feat that eludes most veterans in an entire season, let alone a five-game span.
He mostly took care of the ball like a grizzled pro as well. Lock’s 7:3 TD:INT was impressive. He lost only one of the three fumbles he was guilty of.
Now, 12 months after suffering that thumb sprain in an exhibition battle against the 49ers, Lock is already commemorating his first training camp as an unquestioned starter.
Truncated offseason, lack of preseason present unique challenges
Lock faces a sophomore-season learning curve due to Shurmur’s arrival as the new offensive coordinator. The acclimation period to the new system is likely to be prolonged by a just-completed offseason with no team-sanctioned on-field work and a complete lack of a preseason.
In turn, this could well temper some of the early net gains which stood to be made from the presence of a pair of highly talented pass-catching weapons taken in April’s draft – Alabama’s Jerry Jeudy and Penn State’s KJ Hamler (who’s now potentially out for a month due to a hamstring injury), who’ll team with incumbent Courtland Sutton to form an explosive receiving trio.
And, a key backfield acquisition could also serve to help cap Lock’s passing upside. The Broncos invested $13.5 million guaranteed in former Chargers star Melvin Gordon in free agency. For the moment, it gives Denver a potent three-headed ground attack consisting of Phillip Lindsay, Royce Freeman and Gordon.
It’s safe to say that caliber of position group will likely equate to some run-heavy game plans.
On the bright side, the quality of Lock’s ground troops should help keep defenses honest. He’ll also undoubtedly benefit from the fact all three players are trusted outlet options through the air. Moreover, Gordon and Lindsay particularly offer nifty run-after-catch ability that should help Lock tack on some easy yardage.
Denver’s field general could also draw some optimism from the fact Shurmur helped fellow 2019 draftee Daniel Jones to a solid average of 232.8 passing yards on 35.3 attempts over 13 games last season in New York.
Those numbers would almost certainly leave Lock well behind the likely pace required to threaten for either of the individual futures bets on FD Sportsbook. However, a 16-game season at that statistical clip would make him a strong candidate to eclipse DK Sportsbook’s aforementioned yardage total.