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Why the Broncos' offseason shows belief in quarterback Drew Lock

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Okwuegbunam-Lock combo will prove lethal for Broncos (0:58)

The SEC For Now crew explains how TE Albert Okwuegbunam reuniting with former Mizzou teammate Drew Lock in Denver is the perfect situation for both players. (0:58)

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- The Denver Broncos have given second-year quarterback Drew Lock a vote of confidence that hasn't been seen in two decades.

During the 2020 NFL draft the Broncos selected three wide receivers for the first time since 2000. And when the Broncos selected Jerry Jeudy in the first round and KJ Hamler in the second round, it was the first time in franchise history their first two picks were used on receivers.

On top of that, Denver did not draft a quarterback, and the two biggest contracts it awarded in free agency went to guard Graham Glasgow and running back Melvin Gordon.

The Broncos have also added solid defensive pieces in defensive tackle Jurrell Casey and cornerback A.J. Bouye, but this offseason has been all about the offense.

"We still helped the defense in the offseason with the trades that we made, so I felt that offensively, for us to be able to compete and give Drew a chance to be successful and us to be successful on the offense's side, is we had to get some speed and we had to get some talent on that offensive side and some explosiveness on the offensive side," Broncos president of football operations/general manager John Elway said after the draft. "That's why we decided to go that way."

The Broncos' offseason philosophy is a confluence of optimism about Lock's potential and a stark realization the league's landscape has changed since the organization had the NFL's No. 1 defense powering it to a win in Super Bowl 50.

Elway said Lock's play in December, when he went 4-1 as a starter, provided more incentive to improve the offense.

"As a quarterback, there's no question you always want to have great weapons around you, but I think the key thing is trying to figure out how to win football games," Elway said. "I think that when you look back over the last four years -- since Super Bowl 50, when we really won it on the defensive side, then when [quarterback] Peyton [Manning] retired -- we've been trying to find that replacement for Peyton since then. We've tried to concentrate on the defensive side with the idea that if we can keep the score down, we'll stay in football game and, eventually, try to find the quarterback we can replace him with and get the offense back on track."

Their actions indicate they believe they've found that guy in Lock. Linebacker Von Miller might have been the first to coronate the quarterback when he predicted last season that the rookie would be a "f---ing rock star" after seeing Lock play just eight quarters of football. For his part, Lock departed last season ready to "work and show my teammates, the coaches, they can trust me with the job."

To that end coach Vic Fangio has said the Broncos would push Lock and the other players as hard as possible in the team's virtual offseason program that began a week ago. It is the first season for Pat Shurmur as the team's offensive coordinator and now the second playbook Lock has had to learn in his two seasons.

"We're going to be aggressive to push the limits of this teaching situation because it's critical especially for our offense and quarterback as ... mentioned with Drew," Fangio said. "We're going to make the most of it."

The Broncos are hoping that with some improvement, Lock can lead the organization back to the playoffs after the team suffered three consecutive losing seasons for the first time since the 1970-72 seasons.

"With the way Drew played at the end of last year, we saw the signs of a guy that has a chance to be very successful in this league, but to do that, he's got to have some good people around him," Elway said. " ... We had the guy we believe over time -- as I've talked about, that it's going to take some time -- to give him a chance to be successful and us a chance to be successful. We've got to put points on the board. Seventeen points a game is not nearly enough, so the first step was this year in the draft."