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ENGLEWOOD, CO - JUNE 1 : Denver Broncos quarterbacks Drew Lock (3) and Teddy Bridgewater (5) are in the team at UCHealth Training Center in Englewood, Colorado on Tuesday, June 1, 2021. (Photo by Hyoung Chang/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
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Mile High Monday: How to evaluate the Lock-Bridgewater battle in camp

(Photo by Hyoung Chang/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images)

The Denver Broncos wrapped up their mandatory minicamp last week, and we were gathering clues for two days of practice. What will the Broncos look like in 2021? Nobody knows for sure, but we have a little better idea based on what we saw in mandatory minicamp – and I like what they showed!

I like when all the work is done. Now, the Broncos have a break of a little over a month before the real work begins in training camp. This break is called “vacation” for me every year, and it’s the last time to take a breather before the craziness of the football season hits.

I also like contemplating life and sports when driving around with the top down on my old Jeep TJ! The following is a result of those trips during the week.

Buckle up, let’s take a ride through my thoughts.

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Weight Problems

After the first day of mandatory minicamp, there was a great controversy surrounding what happened on the field. Many people reported that Drew Lock “dominated” in practice, including our very own DMac – although he was not the only one. However, guys like myself, James Palmer from the NFL Network and our very own Nick Ferguson reported something different.

Lock struggled early in practice, but when playing in the red zone – against the second-team defense – he threw three touchdowns. The struggles in 7-on-7 were the same we’ve seen before, holding onto the ball too long, etc.

Because of those struggles, I cannot say that Lock “dominated” practice. It’s not like Teddy Bridgewater did much to distinguish himself that day, but Lock was not far and away the better quarterback. In the red zone he was, but again – that was against the second-string defense.

So, DMac brought up an interesting point: Which drill should mean the most? We didn’t see “move the ball” drills, which I think is the most important part of practice. We did see 7-on-7 which is a pure passing drill, one that is set up for the offense to succeed – and that’s when Lock struggled. We did see red zone work, and that’s where Lock was able to shine.

How much should we take away from these drills? Which drill is most important? How much information can be gleaned from these practices in total?

Broncos head coach Vic Fangio noted how much we should actually take away from the two days of mandatory minicamp.

“To me, OTAs especially, when you have a new quarterback such as Teddy (Bridgewater) coming in, who really didn’t start working with us until OTAs, a big part of this is just getting him comfortable with the offense, introducing it to him. The big evaluation will come more in camp where they’ll be; we’ve toned down the pass rush here to where bodies are around them and see how they operate within the pocket with bodies around them, then obviously the preseason games. So to me, if you’re going to put a percentage on it, the evaluation and comparing the two is 2-3 percent these last few weeks. The 97-98 percent of it has yet to come,” Fangio said.

It’s interesting to examine what went on and how much it matters in the overall scale of things. I disagree with the “dominated” conversation, but I think the most fascinating part of this discussion is about weighing the drills based on importance.

Red zone has to be up there, but it takes moving the ball to get that close to pay dirt. Depending on how you weigh the drills and the practices in total, will determine what you think about Lock’s performance. I’ll say he was dominant in the red zone – that’s fair, but overall there are so many things that still look the same with the third-year quarterback.

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Love Struck

It should not come as a surprise what news is coming out of Green Bay. With the Aaron Rodgers standoff going into mandatory minicamp, the buzz has changed around second-year pro Jordan Love. When it seemed like Rodgers may come back – or at least he was not missing mandatory practice – the stories about Love were about him missing the mark or checking down too often during OTAs. Now, Love is getting hype from the media about how good he looks.

So, what changed?

With Rodgers staying away from mandatory work, I think the team is trying to spin things in favor of Love. In the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft, the greatest wide receiver class in NFL history, the Packers decided not to give Rodgers more weapons. Instead, they selected Love out of Utah State. Love was seen as a raw prospect who needed time, but the upside was there for someone to see him as a top-tier quarterback with time to develop.

It was clear a year ago that Love was not ready for primetime. Instead of serving as the primary backup to Rodgers, Love was the third-string quarterback behind Tim Boyle. With things looking dire in terms of Rodgers playing for the Packers, Love is getting all the first-team work as the team prepares for him to start in 2021.

Love has upside, but why has there been a sudden 180 degrees turn on his performance? It’s most likely to do with PR as the team doesn’t want Love to get ripped up one side and down the other for struggling in practice.

I think Rodgers does get traded in mid-August, and I think the Broncos are his likely destination. A lot must happen before the Packers break, and one of those things includes coming to grips with the fact that Love could be their starter.

***

New Prototype

Things change quickly in the NFL. It wasn’t that long ago that teams were looking for a statuesque pocket passer with incredible accuracy as a downfield passer. There weren’t that many quarterbacks in the world like that, so most teams struggled to find such a prospect. College football wasn’t producing those type of quarterbacks because of college offenses being much different from pro systems, and this created a thin group of top-tier quarterbacks.

Now, the NFL has changed to mobile passers – once thought of as a secondary choice compared to pocket passers – and that move has revolutionized the game. Quarterbacks who can scramble and throw effectively from the pocket are really difficult to find.

I think the Jacksonville Jaguars have one of those gems in 2021 No. 1 overall pick Trevor Lawrence out of Clemson.

Lawrence is a “can’t miss” prospect I can’t wait to see fully develop as a pro. He can run and be a threat as a runner. However, he can stay in the pocket and kill a defense with his arm. Lawrence can do it all, and he’s also known as a great leader.

The Jaguars have never had a quarterback like Lawrence. In fact, most teams are looking for a guy like Lawrence as he’s the new prototype for quarterbacks in the NFL. Lawrence is a player like Andrew Luck who should be a star. I hope they protect Lawrence better than the Colts protected Luck, and I hope that Lawrence is able to one day go toe-to-toe with guys like Patrick Mahomes on the biggest stage. Lawrence is the prototype of the modern quarterback, but don’t expect too many prospects like him to come into the league that often.

***

Happy Father’s Day

This weekend was one of my favorite days every year on the calendar; it was Father’s Day Weekend! This weekend has meant a lot to me for years and year.

When I was a kid growing up on the Eastern plains of Colorado, this weekend meant it was time for “Grover Rodeo,” which was the biggest social event of the year for my hometown. It also meant I got to see my dad compete in rodeo, usually as a calf roper or team roper.

My dad has been a huge influence on my life, and his love of sports – mainly rodeo and football – helped me fall in love with those sports. While I haven’t competed in a rodeo for some time, that was the way I grew up in the country. If I didn’t have a rope in my hand practicing, I was throwing a football or tossing a basketball around in my old hoop connected to a light pole on our ranch.

I have so many memories of my dad helping me learn how to rope better, ride horses better, throw a football better, run the football better (he always talked about keeping your knees high between the tackles), and he even tried to test me on the dirt basketball court – all while wearing cowboy boots!

I’ve been a dad for 22 years, and my first born (Liam) was a Father’s Day baby back in 1999. With my son and two daughters (Katarina, Avery), I have the greatest trio of children I could possibly have. They have been such a blessing in my life, and I’ve forever been changed by raising kids. I love them with all my heart and work diligently to help them reach their goals and dreams in life. There is no greater satisfaction I will have than being a father. It’s important for me to be there as much as possible for my kids, and I’ll work day and night to help get them what they need and want.

What are some of your favorite memories with your dad? Hit me up on social media and let me know!