DENVER — On Jan. 22, 2019, I sat in the hallway of the Rennaissance Hotel in downtown Mobile, Alabama, where a narrowly-set press conference had been set up.
A few minutes after the presser was set to start, a kid by the name of Drew Lock made his way to the podium. With a look that suggested he had just woken up from a nap, Lock made his way to the front of the crowd, sat down and started spitting fire.
Every question he was asked was met with an answer that was either funny, insightful, detailed or all of the above. The kid stole the show.
As I walked out of the building alongside Zac Stevens, Andre Simone and Brandon Spano, the same phrase kept popping up as we raved about something so small as one press conference: Face of the Franchise.
It was the first layer of something much bigger I saw in Mobile.
Once Lock got on the field and started interacting with his “teammates” and coaches, once I had a chance to speak with him one-on-one, once I saw the way he carried himself for three days, it was clear.
Drew Lock has “it.”
It’s called “it” because it’s hard to define or quantify, but you know “it” when you see “it.”
It’s swagger. It’s confidence. It’s fire. It’s shine. It’s charisma. It’s that thing that makes you the center of attention anytime you walk into a room. It makes people want to follow you. It makes people want to befriend you.
He’s got it.
Of all the quarterbacks that have put on the Denver Broncos uniform since “The Sheriff” left town, not a single one has had it.
On Sunday, while the rookie quarterback flashed his arm talent and some fancy footwork to boot, it was that “it” factor that stood out more than anything to me.
On the second drive of his first career NFL start, Lock had the Broncos moving, just on the outside of the red zone. He got the play call from Rich Scangarello in the huddle, but decided to put his own spin on it.
“Hey, run a fade,” he told Courtland Sutton, going off script.
“Okay, bet,” Sutton responded with a smile.
The rest was history as Lock put a ball where only Sutton could catch it and the second-year standout made a spectacular grab to give the rookie QB his first-ever touchdown pass.
“Him telling me to do that, it was awesome,” Sutton said.
After his second touchdown pass to Sutton, Lock went bouncing down the sideline, nodding his head and doing his signature celebration.
“I knew that Drew had a little swag to him,” Sutton said.
But the best “it” moments from the kid came at the very end of the game.
After he effortlessly flicked the ball 50 yards in Courtland Sutton’s direction to draw the pass interference that put the Broncos in position to win the game, Lock ran to the sideline, jumped in the air and slammed his hand into the hand of quarterbacks coach T.C. McCartney.
Then, as McManus’ 53-yarder split the uprights, Lock galloped onto the field in jubilation, firing up the choatic crowd before eventually jumping in the arms of his second-round draft mate, Dalton Risner.
That, my friends, is “it.”
When guys see the center of the team expressing emotion like that, when they see how much winning matters to a leader like that, it just hits different.
Don’t believe me? Listen to Courtland Sutton.
“One-hundred percent,” he said when I asked him about this very notion. “Everyone knows that the quarterback is the leader of the offense. What he did, it was awesome. Everybody follows behind what the quarterback does, so Drew having that swag, it ultimately rubs off on everyone in the offense. It ultimately rubs off on the team.”
As much as anything the Broncos have been missing over the past four years, that passion, drive and desire from the quarterback of the team is up near the top of the list. Drew Lock has a long way to go to solidify himself as the Denver Broncos franchise quarterback, but he has “it” dripping out of his pores, and that’s half the battle.